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Public Health Boosts Fitness Index

Crafting key messages for communications and advocacy, particularly in public health, is a core strength of Asher Agency, and once again we are honored to assist the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and its philanthropic partner, Anthem Foundation as it releases today the 14th consecutive American Fitness Index®

This is the eighth consecutive year our agency has partnered with ACSM and the Anthem Foundation, and it is exciting to see how popular this in-depth research has become among policy makers, the media, researchers, public health leaders and the general population. Please weigh in on your thoughts about the city rankings or other aspects by using our hashtag #100FitCities and by following @ACSMFitnessIndex.

Fitness Index Infographic 2021 Top 10 Fittest Cities in the US

The evidence-based Fitness Index offers city leaders valuable research to make potentially life-changing decisions in policy, systems, and environmental change strategies to drive fitness and health improvements in their communities. The Fitness Index Advisory Board added two new indicators this year – food insecurity and sleep – to highlight the importance of a holistic perspective in personal and community fitness.

Arlington, Virginia, was named “America’s Fittest City” in the annual rankings, which evaluate America’s 100 largest cities using 34 indicators.

Rounding out the top 10 fittest cities are:

  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Washington, D.C.
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Irvine, California
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Atlanta, Georgia, which cracked the top 10 for the first time.

Full rankings and scores, a summary report, city comparison tool and other insights are accessible at

The results show too many of us sleep too little and don’t have access to nutritious food. St. Louis, Missouri, ranked #1 in food insecurity at 18.2%, with Baltimore, Maryland, and New Orleans, Louisiana, close behind at 18%. Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.

In the area of sleep, data revealed fewer than 65% of residents in the top 100 cities reported getting adequate amounts (seven hours or more per day). Four Texas cities — Lubbock, Arlington, Fort Worth and Corpus Christi — were among the top 10 cities whose residents reported getting at least seven hours of sleep. Residents of Cleveland, Ohio, reported getting the least sleep, with only 53.3% of residents achieving the seven-plus hours a day.

Arlington, Virginia, earned its #1 designation by ranking first in eight indicators and scoring among the top 10 cities in 18 of the 34 categories. All cities can be compared to Arlington or others ranked in the Fitness Index by accessing the online City Comparison Tool.

The ACSM team enjoys a skilled and articulate spokesperson for interviews and speaking opportunities. “As we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19, it is even more important that Americans get back to the basics and return to a more physically active, nutrition-conscious and healthy lifestyle,” said Stella Volpe, Ph.D., R.D.N., ACSM-CEP, FACSM, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board. “Despite the overwhelming evidence that physical activity helps prevent and manage chronic diseases, improve mental health and strengthen the immune system, most adults are still not moving enough.”

“Local community leaders must step up and make wise spending choices, policy decisions and infrastructure changes to enhance the ability of residents to be physically active and healthy,” said Volpe. “Local actions that change behaviors also reduce obesity rates, incidence of chronic disease and stress. ACSM and the Anthem Foundation now implement year-round education and outreach activities around the Fitness Index results to help identify needs in each city and contribute to potential solutions.”

The ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index is a call to action and meaningful road map for local community leaders to make funding and policy decisions that impact the health and well-being of our citizens. Asher Agency is proud to be a partner in this important initiative.

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