Local Cities Ranked Among Healthiest In Country

The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area recently was recognized as one of the healthiest areas in the country, and even made gains from last year on the annual American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index.

With an overall score of 72.2, the three-city area earned its fourth-place ranking based on data points that include exercise, mental health, transportation and recreational space.

Among a long list of areas of excellence, the cities were commended for having a high percentage of farmers markets, parkland, residents who are physically active, physical education classes for youth, public transportation or people biking to work, and a lower percentage of people with diabetes.

Areas we could improve on include mental health, a higher percentage of people with asthma or were diagnosed with a stroke, and more swimming pools and basketball hoops per capita.

Nationally, there were some positive healthy shifts from the year before. The index noted a 16 percent increase in those who met the recommendations for aerobic and strength exercise in the last 30 days, and a 10.5 percent drop in those diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease. Small gains were also made in walkability scores, the percentage of people who live within a 10-minute walk to a park, total park expenditures per capita and an increase in the number of recreation centers per 20,000 residents.

Unfortunately, there were also more deaths related to diabetes, a reduction in the percent of residents biking or walking to work, a decrease in the percentage of individuals eating the recommended servings of fruit, and a lower percentage of tennis courts per 10,000 residents.

According to the AFI’s 10-year outlook on national health, there’s a higher percentage of obesity, and those diagnosed with asthma and diabetes increased.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Compared to 10 years ago, smoking rates have declined, deaths associated with diabetes went down as did the number of people diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, and there are more farmers markets for people to enjoy.

“As the American Fit Index celebrates its 10th year, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the efforts of communities and their leaders who have effectively used the data to make measurable changes that are helping improve the health and wellness of their residents,” said Daryl Edmonds, Amerigroup Washington president in a press release. “While the improvements we are seeing are worth celebrating, we know there is still more that can be done. Amerigroup is proud of our foundation’s work and collaboration with ACSM to offer science and evidence for communities to create a culture of healthy lifestyles.”

Top Five AFI Rankings:

  1. Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomingto, MN-WI
  2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-WV
  3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  5. San Jose-Sunyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Bottom Five AFI Rankings:

  1. Birmingham-Hoover, AL
  2. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
  3. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN
  4. Oklahoma City, OK
  5. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

For more information on city-by-city data, view the full AFI Report.

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is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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