Fittest cities take exercise publicly and personally

By Dorene Internicola
NEW YORK | Mon Jun 3, 2013


(Reuters) - Cities that provide parks, walking trails, playing fields and running tracks are setting standards for the country's healthiest urban areas and showing that if they build fitness opportunities, residents will come.


A new ranking of the 50 healthiest U.S. cities weighs "community indicators" that include everything from obesity rates and percentage of smokers to the number of baseball diamonds and tennis courts.


"Community indicators and personal health pretty much follow each other," said Walter Thompson, the chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's American Fitness Index Advisory Board, which compiled the report.


Despite its bone-chilling winters, Minneapolis-St. Paul topped the list for the third year in a row. High obesity and smoking rates placed Oklahoma City at the bottom.


Minnesota's Twin Cities understand that at certain times of year they will be buried in snow, and so they have created lots of places to exercise indoors, Thompson said. The report also notes Minneapolis-St. Paul's generous per-capita number of dog parks, golf courses and baseball diamonds.


More than 76 percent of Minneapolis-St. Paul residents reported exercising in the past 30 days.
Minnesota is sometimes referred to as the land of 10,000 lakes, and the natives appear to use every one of them.


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