Chances are pretty good that if you’re a typical citizen of North Las Vegas, Nevada, or Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, you’re not going to be bench-pressing 250 pounds or winning any marathons anytime soon.
Those are the two least fit of the hundred major cities in America (numbers 99 and 100, respectively), according to the 2019 American Fitness Index just published by the American College of Sports Medicine.
The Index offers both personal health and community environment rankings. It is worth noting that while Oklahoma City scored almost at the bottom, at 99, for community rank and 96 for personal health, North Las Vegas scored slightly better on the personal scale, at 89, though its community score was a lowly 97.
The other cities that leave much to desire in terms of fitness are, in ascending order from North Las Vegas: Tulsa, Oklahoma; Toledo, Ohio; Indianapolis; Louisville, Kentucky; Bakersfield, California; Detroit; Arlington, Texas (part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area); and Corpus Christi, Texas — which is an anomaly, scoring lowest on the Index for personal health but ranking number 42 for community environment.
The top-ranking city for fitness is another Arlington, the one in Virginia, followed by Seattle and Minneapolis. It should be noted that the ACSM Fitness Index doesn’t take into consideration such markers as premature death rate, adult obesity rate, rate of uninsured people under 65, and median household income. When those factors are taken into consideration for a ranking of the healthiest city in every state and the 25 healthiest cities in America, the winners are different.
Corpus Christi and Bakersfield also have the unfortunate distinction of ranking among the top ten deadliest cities in terms of pedestrian fatalities, according to the Index — Corpus Christi at number four, Bakersfield tied for number ten with San Antonio, Texas. (The deadliest city by far, by this measure, is St. Louis.) San Antonio, it might be noted, is also number four on 24/7 Wall St.’s recent listing of the cities where the most people die in car crashes.
Conducted with support from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., a major health benefits (read: insurance) company, the Index ranks cities according to some 33 individual indicators in five categories — health behaviors (among them exercise and healthy eating), health outcome (including rates of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke), built environment (bike lanes, pedestrian facilities, etc.), recreational facilities, and municipal policy/funding for health-related initiatives.
This year’s index adds four new indicators to previous versions: pedestrian fatalities, air quality, Bike Score (an index which measures bikeability using bike lanes, hills, connectivity, and bicycle share mode), and Complete Streets policies, which consider the needs of pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists — and these are the most dangerous (and safest) cities for bikers.