Spotlight on Washington D.C. – Health and Fitness in our Nation’s Capitol

Today’s post looks at the metropolitan statistical area of Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, which spans from southern Maryland to northern Virginia. From 2008-2010, DC Metro ranked at the top of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index® (), which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States.

This year, Minneapolis-St. Paul edged DC Metro out of the number one spot. According to the 2011 data report, D.C. took the number two spot with a score of 76.8 out of a possible 100 points.

Washington D.C. dropped to 2nd this year for several reasons. It showed an increase in smokers from 12.3% in 2010, to 13.6% in 2011. The area also showed a slight increase in the number of residents reporting that they have diabetes. In 2010, the report showed 6.7% with diabetes, and in 2011 a small increase to 7.1%. However, even with these changes Washington D.C. still ranks first in personal health indicators with a score of 83.1. This is highly influenced by the 4 out of 5 people who report exercising regularly and a high percentage of citizens reporting to be in excellent or very good health (64.1%).

Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas rank 3rd for community and environmental indicators related to health. The area increased its number of farmer’s markets per million residents to 18.6 indicating an increase in healthier eating, and has an above average number of primary health care providers per 100,000 residents at 105.2. While the area reduced park related expenditures this year ($259 per capita), its still the highest amount among the 50 areas measured. And the area’s percentage of parkland is still well above average at 19.4%.

Recreational facilities are plentiful in the nation’s capitol, but getting a tee time might prove difficult — the number of golf courses per 100,000 residents is 0.5.

For a complete list of metro area’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the website and download the Washington D.C. report at

The Capitol Building