These are America’s fittest cities

Diana J. Smith

Arlington, Va., has been named the fittest city in America for the fourth consecutive year, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) 2021 American Fitness Index. 

The city notched a score of 86.1 out of a possible 100 on the index, which analyzed 100 of America’s largest cities using 34 indicators representing health behaviors, health outcomes, built environment, recreational facilities and policy/funding.  

The city continues to outperform its top competitors, which include Minneapolis (No. 2), followed by Seattle and Denver. 


“Arlington’s longstanding commitment to being a fit city serves as a model for all communities in the U.S.,” authors of the ACSM American Fitness Index report wrote. 

The mission of the annual index is to highlight what cities are doing and how they can “make their residents stronger, fitter, and healthier,” the report read. 

This is even more vital now as our country tries to emerge from a “health care crisis not seen since the last century.” 

A group of people running on treadmills in a gym.  (iStock)

“The ACSM American Fitness Index highlights the health and health habits of communities across the United States. It provides us with a snapshot of how we are doing, and identifies what more we can do to make our cities healthier,” said Stella L. Volpe, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist who is also the chair of the ACSM American Fitness Index Advisory Board. 

Especially during the pandemic, the index “continues to help identify how communities can ensure that we have a healthy nation,” Volpe added. 

However, even before the virus gripped the nation in March 2020, many of the county’s largest cities were already unhealthy, according to the report. The data shows that on average almost a third of residents in the 100 largest cities across the nation have obesity. Additionally, about 14% are smokers and 25% reported not exercising in the previous month. 


Preliminary studies also “indicated that during 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reduced physical activity and healthy food intake, as well as increased obesity rates and stress,” according to the report. 

Although the authors of the report acknowledged that the full effects of COVID-19 won’t be known for years, they say “preventing and managing chronic diseases has never been more important to our collective health and economic well-being.” 

Here are the top 10 fittest cities in America based on the 2021 American Fitness Index: 

  1. Arlington, Va.
  2. Minneapolis, Minn.
  3. Seattle, Wash.
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Madison, Wis.
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Paul, Minn.
  8. Irvine, Calif.
  9. Portland, Ore.
  10. Atlanta, Ga.
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