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Health Lists & Rankings: America's Fittest Cities

May 26, 2009
by Rebecca Ruiz
Forbes Magazine

When it comes to healthy living, Washington, D.C., is seldom mentioned in the same breath as cities like San Francisco, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, all of which are known for their active, health-conscious residents.

But according to a new report, the city of pomp and politics is the healthiest in the nation. In the second annual American Fitness Index (AFI), a publication released by the American College of Sports Medicine, Washington, D.C., edged out Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Denver, Boston and San Francisco.

Walter Thompson, a professor in the department of kinesiology and health at Georgia State University and chair of the AFI's advisory board, says the annual project is designed to give communities a data-driven picture of local health--and nudge residents in the right direction.

Acting accordingly could pay significant dividends. Research has shown that investments in preventative health care can have financial rewards. A 2008 report issued by the nonprofit organization Trust for America's Health found that spending $10 per person on proven programs like smoking cessation and physical activity could save $16 billion annually in health costs.

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