Chicago ranks 12th in American Fitness Index

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The ninth annual American Fitness Index was released on May 18, and out of the 50 metro areas in the United States, Chicago was named the 12th “fittest city.”

Published by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, analyzes the number of heath behaviors in each city, as well as environmental factors, including access to parks, recreational facilities and walking trails. The higher ranked cities also tend to have lower cardiovascular and diabetes issues.

“The AFI has continually proven its value as a trusted measurement of the health of our metro areas, and it has also become a catalyst for urban and suburban leaders to shape infrastructures that promote healthy lifestyles and create positive outcomes,” said chair of the AFI Advisory Board Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FASCM.

Ranked first was Washington, D.C. for the third consecutive year, followed closely by Minneapolis – St. Paul and Denver.


Chicago was the second-highest ranked Midwestern city on the list, after Minneapolis, and moved up five spots from the 2015 report; Indianapolis was ranked dead last, followed by Oklahoma City and Louisville, respectively, and can be attributed to the low presence of outdoor amenities in these areas.

The report also found that there was an 11.8 percent increase in the number of people who claimed to have exercised in the last 30 days, and a 5.2 percent increase in total park expenditure per resident. Also, twice as many states had policies this year requiring physical education to be taught at the elementary, middle or high school level.

“Our overarching goal is to offer communities and residents resources that can help them assess, plan and implement measures for a quality, healthier life,” Thompson said.

Americans should aim for 30 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of stretching five days a week, regardless of where they live, according to a statement released by Anthem Chief Clinical Officer Craig Samitt.

“Modeling healthy behavior by incorporating activity into the weekday schedule and practicing good nutrition can improve fitness,” said Samitt. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with ACSM on an initiative that is providing actionable data for communities to create a culture of healthy lifestyles.”

More details on Illinois’ health statistics can be found here.