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.

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Holly's running career began in high school; after being bummed about not making the volleyball team her sophomore year, she decided to join some of her middle school friends on the cross country team. She also did track in the fall, where the 1600 m race was her niche. Since then, she has run several shorter distance races and two half marathons. Her goal for 2017 is to try a triathlon, and eventually do the Chicago Marathon. She graduated from Illinois State University in May 2016 with a degree in journalism. Working at Chicago Athlete, Holly has been able to explore photography a lot more, which is one of her main hobbies. She enjoys taking photos at endurance races, and is also passionate about nature photography and portraiture.