America's fittest (and least fit) cities have been named - is yours on the list?

The locations were scored on factors including fitness, healthy eating and quality of sleep

Man and woman riding bikes in the city
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may think you live within a fit community, but are you living in one of the fittest (or - gulp - least fit) cities in America? 

The latest American Fitness Index has identified the fittest and healthiest city in the US, and - for an impressive fourth year in a row - Arlington, Virginia has come out on top.

The top five also included Minneapolis; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; and Madison, Wisconsin.

Compiled every year by by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, the report looks at the wellbeing of America's 100 most populous cities. Factors taken into account include the amount of aerobic activity residents take part in (which you can track yourself using one of the best fitness trackers), whether they follow a healthy diet and if they suffer from any health conditions. 

Another factor that helped the city's high score was the health of the community and environment, including air quality, and access to local parks and nature. 

Two new factors were also added to the index this year, with cities ranked on sleep quality and food security (defined by the US Department of Agriculture as consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life).

It was clear from the results that Arlington citizens are prioritizing their fitness, with 86% of adults reported that they had taken part in a form of exercise twice a week over the course of the previous month.

Top 10 fittest US cities 2021

  1. Arlington, VA
  2. Minneapolis, MN
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. Denver, CO
  5. Madison, WI
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Paul, MN
  8. Irvine, CA
  9. Portland, OR
  10. Atlanta, GA

A clear trend emerged, with communities who were able to get outside and be active faring better during the pandemic. Stella L. Volpe, who chairs the American Fitness Index advisory board, said: “Even in the lockdown, when people felt safe or could do so, physical activity increased a bit. People were going out and walking with their families and being safe with distancing.”

At the other end of the scale, Oklahoma City was deemed to be the most unfit city on the list of 100. Other cities to find themselves in the bottom five included Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Las Vegas, Nevada; Indianapolis; and Wichita, Kansas

Worryingly, the report also found that 1 in 4 adults hadn't performed any exercise in the past month. It also found that most Americans didn't meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, along with twice-weekly muscle strengthening activities.

If you're currently concerned about your own activity levels, there are plenty of things to try. Walking for weight loss is a great way to kick-start your fitness regime, offering a gentle entry to cardiovascular activity. Best of all, you don't need much to get started - a good pair of shoes for walking (or perhaps a pair of running shoes, if you think you might progress to jogging) will suffice. Take a look at our pick of the best running shoes for women and the best running shoes for men for our recommended options.

Family in woods on bikes

(Image credit: getty)

Worryingly, the report also found that 1 in 4 adults hadn't performed any exercise in the past month. It also found that most Americans didn't meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, along with twice-weekly muscle strengthening activities.

If you're currently concerned about your own activity levels, there are plenty of things to try. Walking for weight loss is a great way to kick-start your fitness regime, offering a gentle entry to cardiovascular activity. Best of all, you don't need much to get started - a good pair of shoes for walking (or perhaps a pair of running shoes, if you think you might progress to jogging) will suffice. Take a look at our pick of the best running shoes for women and the best running shoes for men for our recommended options.

10 lowest scoring cities

  1. Oklahoma City, OK
  2. Tulsa, OK
  3. North Las Vegas, NV
  4. Wichita, KS
  5. Indianapolis, IN
  6. Chesapeake, VA
  7. Louisville, KY
  8. Bakersfield, CA
  9. Memphis, TN
  10. Toledo, OH

Elsewhere, when it came to sleep quality - one of the new factors to be examined in this year's report - Lubbock, Texas came out on top, with 78% of their residents said they were happy with their sleep quality. The top five also included Richmond, Virginia; Minneapolis; Arlington, Texas; and Seattle, Washington. Interestingly, four of the top 10 cities were found to be in the state of Texas.

However, spare a thought for the sleep-weary residents of Cleveland, Ohio. It ranked last in the sleep charts, with just 53% of their residents admitting to sleeping more than seven hours a night. 

If you also struggle to get enough sleep, there are steps you can take. Firstly, ensure your bed is set-up for sleep success. Comfort is key and, if a whole new bed is out of the question, the best mattress toppers can provide an additional layer of support. And if dropping off proves troublesome, take a look at our expert tips on how to fall asleep fast, along with our guide to the best sleeping positions.

The best US cities for sleep

  1. Lubbock, TX
  2. Richmond, VA
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Arlington, TX
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Ft Worth, TX
  7. Corpus Christi, TX
  8. Arlington, VA
  9. Aurora, CA
  10. Chula Vista, CA
Sarah Finley
Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist who writes about fitness and wellbeing for the BBC, Woman&Home and Tech Radar. During lockdown she found her love of running outside again and now attempts to run around 50 miles a month. When it comes to other fitness, she loves a sweaty cardio session – although since she’s been working out from home she’s sure her downstairs neighbors aren’t too happy about it. She also loves to challenge herself - and has signed up to do hiking holidays, intense bootcamps and last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddle boarding around deserted islands in Croatia. On her rest days, she loves to recover with a simple yoga flow session – the perfect antidote to her active fitness schedule.