When it comes to fittest cities, Boston fares pretty well — ranked number nine in a new survey from the American College of Sports Medicine — but it’s slipped a bit from previous rankings, which the college has been conducting annually since 2008. Boston was the sixth fittest last year and was the third fittest in 2011.
Adding insult to injury, Washington, D.C., took the number one spot this year. D.C.? Home of humid summers and wimpy winters where an inch of snow shuts down the city? I also scratched my head a bit at Minneapolis, Portland, and Denver being in the second, third, and fourth positions. What about New York City, home to the most SoulCycle studios and thin folks who walk everywhere?
(NYC is way down at 24th, though these rankings are metropolitan areas, so New York includes Long Island and parts of northern New Jersey.)
The rankings take into account the percentage of people who exercise — more than 80 percent of those surveyed in Boston reported exercising in the past 30 days — but also factor in other health measures.
Where Boston excels meeting or exceeding the target goal: lower death rate from heart disease and diabetes than the target goal; higher percent of city land as park land; more use of public transportation, and high percentage of those walking or biking to work.
Where the city stands room to improve: its asthma rates are too high, a high percentage of people have heart disease and diabetes (even if death rates are lower), there are fewer golf course, recreation centers, swimming pools, and tennis courts per capita than goals set by the college for encouraging physical activity.