The broad-shouldered city has been flexing its muscles in terms of fitness. In a recently released list of the 100 fittest cities in America, Chicago came in at No. 10.
The American Fitness Index, published annually by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Elevance Health Foundation, rates cities on a number of personal health indicators, such as the percentage of smokers in the population, smoking chronic health issues such as the prevalence of obesity in the population and the percentage of people who exercised in the past 30 days, as well as community and environmental indicators, which include a city’s walkability and the access to leisure facilities.
It’s the first time Windy City has cracked the top 10 in the report’s 15-year history and an improvement from last year’s No. 14 ranking. Arlington, Va., was ranked the fittest city — a title it has held for five years.
Chicago’s ranking can be attributed to its high walking and biking scores, and accessibility to parks.
“Chicago has a strong physical activity infrastructure to support active lifestyles,” said Amanda Paluch, who serves on the American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index advisory board.
In addition to providing people with active transportation options, such as walking or biking to work and school, the city also provides many opportunities for people to be active in their own way.
“Ninety-eight percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park in Chicago,” said Paluch, who highlighted the city’s lakeside trail as another highlight. . “Think about the length of this bike path. It is uninterrupted along the lake and provides people with an active transportation option and also an option to be active during leisure time.
While the city has the infrastructure to promote healthy lifestyles, more could be done to encourage residents to use them, Paluch said.
“For example, the city could have more programs in existing parks, creating awareness and community around a park. Businesses could have bike-to-work incentives,” she said. “The infrastructure is there. It’s just how to get more people to use them.
Chicago has been on the rise in the Fitness Index rankings since 2018 and was praised in the report for “setting a great example for other cities to follow.”
Declining smoking rates, strokes and the percentage of residents in poor physical health are among the behaviors that have boosted the city’s rankings from a year ago, according to Paluch.
Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz | (773) 509-5452 | [email protected]