Arlington, Va. Named ‘Best City’ in 2022 American Fitness Index® Rankings

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Arlington, Virginia named “America’s Best City” in the annual American Fitness Index® rankings published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Elevance Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health.

The ACSM/Elevance Health Foundation Fitness Index assessed America’s 100 largest cities using 34 evidence-based indicators. Rounding out the top 10 cities are Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Washington, DC; Seattle, Washington; Irvine, California; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; and Chicago, Illinois (first time in the top 10). Full rankings and results, summary report, city comparison tool and other insights are available on the Fitness Index website.

“I congratulate those city leaders and planners who have led efforts to develop parks and playgrounds, build bike lanes and safe streets, and provide a built environment that encourages physical activity,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, Chief Health Officer of Elevance Health. “As we entered another year of the pandemic, health disparities in our communities continued to be an issue, which only encourages us to address health equity head-on. We were also faced with another year of loss, illness and isolation, which resulted in the need to improve mental health. As we begin to return to our previous routines, we must emphasize the significant mental and physical health benefits exercise has in our lives.”

Now in its 15th year, the Fitness Index offers city leaders valuable research to make potentially life-changing decisions on policies, systems and environmental change strategies that drive improvements in fitness and health in their communities.

As mental health concerns rise rapidly across the nation, this year’s Fitness Index provides statistical evidence of the extent of the problem. On average, 39.6% of residents of Fitness Index cities reported poor mental health. Nearly 58% of US adults perceive a negative effect of the pandemic on their emotional or mental health. Cities with the highest rates of poor mental health (listed from highest to lowest) include New Orleans, Louisiana; Laredo, Texas; San Francisco, California; Washington, DC; San Jose, California; Madison, Wisconsin; Lubbock, Texas; Stockton, California; Riverside, California; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

There is good news. Research has shown that physical activity – both aerobic and strength training – is effective in preventing and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving mood and self-esteem, and improving sleep quality.

ACSM issued a statement in August 2021 offering resources on the benefits of physical activity for those with mental health issues

“The Fitness Index Advisory Board hypothesized that poor mental health issues could be a significant factor because the pandemic has disrupted every phase of our lives, some more than others,” said Stella Volpe, Ph.D. Sc., RDN, ACSM-CEP, FACSM, Chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board. “Our decision to perfect this important factor was correct. We found that cities ranked in the top 25 tended to score well on indicators of personal health; however, there was one exception – mental health. Four cities in the top 25 are also ranked among the cities with the worst mental health.”

ACSM and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, about 22 minutes per day. They also recommend muscle-strengthening activity twice a week. Volpe said 22.4% of adults in Fitness Index cities reported no exercise in the previous month, and only 50.9% met the guidelines for aerobic activity, while an even smaller percentage (23.8) met the guidelines for aerobic exercise as well. activities and for strength activities.

“Increasing physical activity is likely to help reduce mental health burden,” Volpe said. “This highlights the need for local community leaders to step up and make bold spending choices, policy decisions and infrastructure changes to increase opportunities for residents to be physically active and healthy. Local community activities that change personal behavior also reduce obesity rates, the incidence of chronic diseases and stress. ACSM and the Elevance Health Foundation are now conducting year-round educational and outreach activities around the Fitness Index results to help identify needs in each city and contribute to potential solutions.”

Arlington, Virginia, earned the No. 1 designation for the fifth time, a Fitness Index record, ranking first in six metrics and winning among the top 10 cities in 19 of 34 categories. Arlington was ranked #1 in the personal health and community/environment subscores. All cities can be compared to Arlington or others ranked in the Fitness Index by accessing the online city comparison tool.

Additional findings from the 2022 Fitness Index rankings include:

  • Cities ranked No. 1 for meeting the exercise indicator include Arlington, Virginia, for exercise in the past month; St. Petersburg, Florida, to meet aerobic activity guidelines; and Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, California, related to meeting guidelines for aerobic and strength activities.

  • There was an increase in the percentage of Americans who exercised in the previous month (77.6%); sleeping 7+ hours a day (68%); and report excellent/very good health (55.9%), from last year’s fitness index.

  • Tampa, Fla., jumped from 57th to 25th in the rankings, with the biggest shift being an improvement in personal health indicators. Tampa saw increases in exercise, sleep and those in excellent/very good health. It noted reductions in reporting of poor physical health, angina/coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

  • Spokane, Washington, replaced Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the Top 100 cities according to the US Census. Spokane was ranked 30th overall.

The 2022 ACSM / Elevance Health Foundation Fitness Index rankings are listed below.

Overall rank

1. Arlington, VA

2. Madison, WI

3. Minneapolis, MN

4. Washington, DC

5. Seattle, WA

6. Irvine, CA.

7. Portland, OR

8. St. Paul, MN

9. Denver, CO

10. Chicago, IL

11. Oakland, CA

12. Boise, ID

13. Boston, MA

14. San Francisco, CA

15. Aurora, CO

16. Lincoln, NE

17. New York, NY

18. Atlanta, GA

19. Jersey City, NJ

20. San Jose, CA

21. Buffalo, NY

22. Honolulu, HI

23. San Diego, CA

24. Santa Ana, CA.

25. Tampa, FL

26. Fremont, CA

27. Austin, TX

28. Sacramento, CA

29. Plano, TX

30. Spokane, WA

31. Anaheim, CA

32. Milwaukee, WI

33. Albuquerque, NM

34. Raleigh, NC

35. Tucson, AZ

36. Richmond, VA

37. Durham, NC

38. Pittsburgh, PA

39. St. Petersburg, FL

40. Miami, FL

41. Long Beach, CA

42. Glendale, AZ

43. Virginia Beach, VA

44. Omaha, NE

45. Newark, NJ

46. ​​New Orleans, LA

47. Norfolk, VA

48. Chula Vista, CA

49. Colorado Springs, CO

50. Reno, NV

51. Orlando, FL

52. Los Angeles, CA

53. Winston-Salem, NC

54. Charlotte, NC

55. Cleveland, OH

56. Anchorage, AK

57. Dallas, TX

58. Chandler, AZ

59. Hialeah, FL

60. Scottsdale, AZ

61. Houston, TX

62. Philadelphia, PA

63. Nashville, TN

64. Stockton, CA

65. Mesa, AZ

66. Phoenix, AZ

67. Baltimore, MD

68. Cincinnati, OH

69. San Antonio, TX

70. St. Louis, MO

71. Jacksonville, FL

72. Greensboro, NC

73. Gilbert, AZ

74. Garland, TX

75. Fort Wayne, IN

76. Columbus, OH

77. El Paso, TX

78. Fresno, CA

79. Laredo, TX

80. Irving, TX

81. Corpus Christi, TX

82. Fort Worth, TX

83.5. Arlington, TX

83.5. Toledo, OH

85. Bakersfield, CA

86. Lubbock, TX

87. Chesapeake, VA

88. Kansas City, MO

89. Wichita, KS

90. Riverside, CA

91. Detroit, MI

92. Lexington, KY

93. Henderson, NV

94. Memphis, TN

95. Las Vegas, NV

96. Louisville, KY

97. Indianapolis, IN

98. Tulsa, OK

99. North Las Vegas, NV

100. Oklahoma City, OK

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) serves as the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world with more than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified fitness professionals. All are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. ACSM advocates for legislation that supports continued funding for parks, trails and safe routes to school; the need for all Americans to meet the physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines; as well as the need to regularly update the guidelines every 10 years. For more than a decade, the ACSM American Fitness Index has provided an annual overview of community fitness for some of the largest cities and metros in the US. The ACSM American Fitness Index 2022 assessed America’s 100 largest cities using 34 indicators representing health behaviors, health outcomes, built environment, recreation facilities, and policy/funding. Cities with the highest scores are considered to have strong community fitness, a concept analogous to individuals having strong personal fitness. For more details, visit or follow us @ACSMFitIndex on Twitter/ #100FitCities.

About Elevance Health Foundation

Elevance Health Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health, Inc. The Foundation works to advance health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially disadvantaged through partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal and child health; substance use disorder; and food as medicine. Through its key areas of focus, the Foundation also strategically aligns with Elevance Health’s focus on community health and becomes a trusted lifelong health partner driven by its purpose to improve the health of humanity. To learn more about Elevance Health Foundation, visit or follow us @ElevanceFND on Twitter and Elevance Health Foundation on Facebook.

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