May 19, 2015 / 6:28 PM / 4 years ago

Washington is fittest U.S. city; Americans' sloth rises: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington, D.C., again tops the list of the fittest U.S. cities, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul and San Diego, although Americans are exercising less overall, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Washington Monument looms above blooming cherry blossoms and a jogger, out for an early morning run near the tidal basin in Washington, April 11, 2005. REUTERS/Gregg Newton

At the bottom were Oklahoma City, Memphis and Indianapolis, according to the eighth annual American Fitness Index from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation.

The cities were judged according to such indicators as the variety of outdoor activity options and rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes.

“The AFI is two things: a measure of how healthy a metro area is today, and a call-to-action for urban and suburban leaders to design infrastructures that promote active lifestyles and lead to positive health outcomes,” said Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI Advisory Board.

The study uses a composite score to measure the health of each metropolitan area. Access to public parks was added as a measure in 2015.

The Washington metropolitan area topped the list for the second year in a row with a score of 79.6 out of 100 possible points, a two-point improvement over 2014.

The report showed an 11 percent drop in the last year in the number of Americans who exercised in the last 30 days, and a 7.8 percent increase in diabetes death rates.

There was a 5.5 percent drop in those who eat enough fruit each day.

On the plus side, respondents who reported they had been diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease decreased by 9.5 percent.

The survey also found a 5.5 percent increase in the number of park units from 2014 to 2015.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Dan Grebler

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