Boston drops from third fittest city to sixth in national index

Oklahoma City was ranked the least fit city in the nation.
Oklahoma City was ranked the least fit city in the nation.

Boston is slipping on the fitness scale, according to findings released Wednesday by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Last year, Boston ranked as the third fittest city in the United States on the college’s Fitness Index, but the city dropped to sixth place this year.

The index measures the health and community fitness status of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. For the third year in a row, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area was named the fittest in the nation.

The Boston-Cambridge-Quincy-area scored 67.1 out of 100 possible points in the 2013 report, down from a score of 70 points last year. Oklahoma City was ranked the least fit city in the nation, with a score of 31.2. Minneapolis pulled in a score of 78.2.

“Just like individual fitness levels, community and city fitness levels fluctuate, as well,” said Katinka Podmaniczky, a Boston Health Commission spokeswoman.

“What’s important is that here in Boston, we have an increasing number of free and low-cost resources to help all our residents be active and make healthy choices – from expanded bike lanes and Hubway stations, to free fitness classes on City Hall plaza, to walking groups in our neighborhoods and more. Now that the weather’s getting warmer, more and more Bostonians will be outside and taking advantage of all the great fitness opportunities this city has to offer.”

Good news first: Bostonians have a lower death rate for cardiovascular disease, and a lower death rate for diabetes. The index also showed a higher percent of insured residents, and a higher percent of people using public transportation and bicycling or walking to work.

Areas of improvement surround lifestyle factors: The city has a higher percentage of smokers, asthmatics and diabetics than other cities.

The index comes just one month after the city fell short of a fitness goal set by city officials.

Boston Moves for Health challenged residents to lose one million pounds and walk 10 million miles over the course of a year. They managed to drop a collective 95,814 pounds and moved 8,592,551 miles.

“We have issued the American Fitness Index each year since 2008 to help health advocates and community leader advocates improve the quality of life in their hometowns,” said Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI Advisory Board. “As urban areas attract more and more residents, it’s imperative for cities to create a built environment, fund amenities and form policies that get residents active and encourage healthy lifestyles.”

The full report is available for download.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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