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Boston ranks as 10th fittest city in America, an improvement over last year, study says

Runners wear masks along the banks of the Charles River in this June 9, 2020 file photo.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Boston is the 10th fittest city in America, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, which is a big improvement over last year, when the city ranked 19th.

In the ACSM fitness index 2020 report, Boston stands in the top quartile for both personal health (25th out of 100) and community/environment (14th out 100). The city also reported the largest percentage of residents walking or biking to work and ranked third in the percentage of residents using public transportation. In addition, Boston and San Francisco tied for first place in the study’s assessment of access to public parks within a 10-minute walk.


Now, Boston trails behind Boise (ranked the 9th fittest city), Denver (8th), Irvine (7th), Washington D.C. (6th), San Francisco (5th), Madison, Wisc. (4th), Minneapolis (3rd), Seattle (2nd), and Arlington, VA, the top-ranked city for three years in a row, in the overall rankings. Finishing in last place this year are Oklahoma City, Bakersfield, Calif., and North Las Vegas.

Last year, Boston ranked 19th place overall — 44th in personal health, and 7th in community/environment. The city also ranked slightly lower on walking, biking, public transportation, and park accessibility in 2019.

The annual study uses 33 indicators to evaluate the country’s 100 largest cities from New York City to Chula Vista to Milwaukee. Eighteen factors — like the prevalence of different exercise habits, diseases, and pedestrian fatalities — influence the personal health rankings. The environmental indicators, on the other hand, account for bikeability, air quality, and the presence of swimming pools, parks, and farmers’ markets.

The study says cities with the highest scores have strong community fitness, which contributes to residents having strong personal fitness.

The goal of the report? To encourage city policy that allows for healthier living, said ACSM president Barbara Ainsworth in a statement.


“The ACSM American Fitness Index highlights a community’s personal health, recreational and non-motorized transportation opportunities to inform advocates and city planners of ways to enhance the health and well-being of its residents and visitors,” she wrote.

The 20 fittest cities in America, 2020

1. Arlington, VA

2. Seattle, WA

3. Minneapolis, MN

4. Madison, WI

5. San Francisco, CA

6. Washington, D.C.

7. Irvine, CA

8. Denver, CO

9. Boise, ID

10. Boston, MA

11. San Diego, CA

12. St. Paul, MN

13. Chicago, IL

14. Oakland, CA

15. San Jose, CA

16. Portland, OR

17. Honolulu, HI

18. Atlanta, GA

19. Lincoln, NE

20. Sacramento, CA

Source: ACSM fitness index 2020 report

Diti Kohli can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_

Diti Kohli can be reached at her @ditikohli_.