The Trust for Public Lands and the American College of Sports Medicine have recently released studies that reconfirm the Washington region’s high quality of living. In fact, based on the past few years’ findings, this is a continuing pattern for the region.
Two recent articles that appeared in the Washington Post highlight how fit Washingtonians are as well as how much and accessible parks are in our region. For the third year in a row, the American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index ranked this region as the nation’s healthiest.
The Post article noted that “Eighty percent of area residents surveyed reported exercising in the previous 30 days, although only about 25 percent were meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s aerobic guidelines, according to the report. Twenty-five percent of residents are obese, and more than 96 percent live within a 10-minute walk to a park. Nearly 18 percent eat three or more servings of vegetables per day,” the report says. However, the report did mention that there are some existing disparities among lower income areas of the region (such as Anacostia) where better access to parks and obesity are still of concern.
According to the index, the top five healthiest metro area were:
The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) study examined parkland in 100 of the nation’s largest cities and found that D.C. ranked third (same as in 2015) and Arlington County fourth. The study ranked regions according to park size, accessibility and the types of amenities that exist in the park (playgrounds, trails, etc.). The rankings actually take into account the per capita amount that the locality spends on park related amenities and land. The report noted that DC spends $287 per resident and Arlington $235/resident. However, these numbers also include expenditures by the National Park Service, which has a large presence in both localities.
As with the American College of Sports Medicine study, TPL also noted that there are disparities in the availability of some recreational facilities in lower income sections. For instance, DC scored low for playgrounds, and Arlington could improve the number of basketball facilities.
All in all both studies show that this region is not only fit, but has great access to recreational facilities as well. And with a growing network of trails and biking/walking facilities in our region, many residents can access these amenities without driving a car, a huge bonus for both our fitness and our regional environment!