Detroit came nearly dead last on the ACSM's latest list.

Detroit came nearly dead last on the ACSM's latest list.

For the past six years the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) puts out its annual Fitness Index, a ranking of the health and physical fitness of the 50 biggest metro areas in the U.S.  ACSM found that for the third year in a row the Minneapolis-St. Paul area ranked #1 for fitness. (There goes any excuse about not working out because of the weather...)

The "Today" show recently looked at why Minneapolis-St. Paul is healthiest. The cities' secrets, they found, were a bike-friendly community with plenty of trails to ride, walk, and run, as well as an impressive 182 parks (that's one park within six blocks of every person in Minneapolis!).

The Twin Cities scored 78.2 out of a possible 100 on the Index, which beat its 2012 score by a bit. The Index is an important barometer of how larger cities are doing, as it's compiled with the help of over two dozen physical activity experts and factors in data from the U.S. Census, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a number of other sources.

Who else was in the top 10? Here's how the top-ranking cities round out:

2. Washington, DC

3. Portland, OR

4. San Francisco, CA

5. Denver, CO

6. Boston, MA

7. Sacramento, CA

8. Seattle, WA

9. Hartford, CT

10. San Jose, CA


And if you're wondering if you live in an exercise-hating town, here are the 10 metro areas at the bottom of ACSM's list:

41. Birmingham, AL

42. Miami, FL

43. Houston, TX

44. Dallas, TX

45. Indianapolis, IN

46. Memphis, TN

47. Louisville, KY

48. San Antonio, TX

49. Detroit, MI

50. Oklahoma City, OK

When lists like these come out most of have become used to seeing certain cities crop up again and again--especially many southern cities that are especially ravaged by very high rates of overweight/obesity and sedentary lifestyle. But it's not as simple as blaming people in those states and telling them to "get off the couch." These same areas and cities tend to have poorer populations, worse access to healthcare and doctors, and to live in places where it may not be easy to get healthy food, or walk to or ride a bike in a park that's safe and cared-for.

The problem of creating healthier, fitter cities isn't an easy one to solve, for sure. That's why ACSM put together a Community Action Guide that anyone can download (you can find it here as a PDF). The ACSM Fitness Index is created in cooperation with the WellPoint Foundation.

Do you live in a fit city, community, or neighborhood? Do you wish you did? Do you think where you live makes it harder to exercise?

Photo courtesy of davecito/Flickr