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Virginia Beach ranks 18th on annual fit cities list

5/29/2013, 3:07 p.m.

Virginia Beach ranked 18th in the American College of Sport Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index™ (AFI), which measures the health and community fitness status of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Similar to an annual physical or wellness exam, the sixth annual report evaluates the preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access and community resources and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles. Included in the report’s latest edition are benchmarks for each data indicator to highlight areas that need improvement.

The metropolitan statistical area (MSA) of Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News scored 58.3 (out of 100 possible points) in the 2013 report, down seven spots from last year. In 2012, the metro area ranked 11th with a score of 63.2. Minneapolis-St. Paul achieved a high score of 76.4 to capture the top ranking for the third consecutive year.

Virginia Beach ranked 25th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health conditions and health care access. The area ranked seventh on community/environmental indicators associated to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

“We have issued the American Fitness Index each year since 2008 to help health advocates and community leaders improve the quality of life in their hometowns,” said Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the AFI Advisory Board. “As urban areas attract more and more residents, it’s imperative for cities to create a built environment, fund amenities and form policies that get residents active and encourage healthy lifestyles.”

To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the AFI data report. Researchers analyzed the data gleaned from U.S. Census data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data in order to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health and fitness status at a metropolitan level.