This Is the Least Fit City in America

Looks like Middle America isn't so great for your midline.

On Tuesday, the annual American Fitness Index report came out, ranking the fitness levels of the 100 largest cities in America. The study, which is conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, revealed that Arlington, Virginia, topped the list for the second year in a row. But one locale in Middle America found itself way at the bottom: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The report's rankings are based on a variety of factors, including the diet, exercise levels, and overall health of each city's residents, as well as the amount of swimming pools, farmer's markets, and recreation centers that offer people the opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For the 2019 American Fitness Index, the researchers added several new factors to emphasize the importance of policy on health—they included each city's air quality and how easy it is to get around by bike.

In Oklahoma City, only 71 percent of residents had exercised in the last 30 days and only 10 percent of people consume three of more servings of vegetables per day. Less than half of Oklahoma City dwellers are in good health, and 34 percent are considered obese, according to their body mass index (or BMI). Oklahoma overall did not fare well in general in terms of wellness, given that Tulsa was ranked as the third least fit city on the list. (North Las Vegas, Nevada, came in second-to-last place.)

On the other end of the spectrum, after Arlington, the fittest cities in America were Seattle, Washington, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, both of which are among the top 10 cities millennials are flocking to.

Overall, the American Fitness Index showed that 75.2 percent of adults in all cities were physically active in the last month, but only 22 percent met recommended aerobic and strength guidelines. And even though people know that biking to work is great for both personal fitness and the environment, only 4.5 percent of residents in all cities walk or bike to work.

The American Fitness Index's findings are particularly significant in light of the nation's rising rates of obesity. A December 2018 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the average American adult now has a BMI just shy of 30, which is considered obese. Even more worryingly, perhaps, is a February 2018 study from Cancer Research U.K. that found that millennials are set to be the fattest generation ever.

"Chronic diseases, sedentary lifestyles, and pedestrian fatalities are at critical levels in our country, and city leadership can effectively address each of these challenges by becoming a fit city," Barbara Ainsworth, Ph.D., chair of the American Fitness Index Board, told Best Life in a statement. "We challenge city leaders, regardless of where their community ranks on the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index, to take bold and decisive action toward building and maintaining infrastructures that promote fitness."

And if you feel like your geographic location is getting in the way of your health goals, you might want to consider a move to the U.S. States Where People Live the Longest.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more