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by Dr Jane Moore

July 1, 2008

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in partnership with the WellPoint Foundation, launched the ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) program on May 29, 2008 in Indianapolis during the ACSM Annual Meeting at the Indiana Convention Center. The ACSM American Fitness Index™ program is a call to action for communities and citizens to improve the overall health, fitness and quality of life in the United States.

The program is designed to be a resource for communities, linking them with health partners and programs in their area that can impact their level of health and fitness. Exercise and physical activity are key to good health and the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases, as well as the enhanced health of communities overall.

The first phase of the program is a report focused on data collection and analysis for the 15 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States and Indianapolis, the headquarters city for ACSM and WellPoint, Inc. The AFI data report reflects a composite of community indicators for preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, access to health care, community supports and policies for physical activity. In addition, demographic and economic diversity, and levels of violent crime are shown for each metropolitan area. A complete breakdown of the data is available in the data report.

The top three locations:
1. San Francisco (Bay Area).
3. Seattle Metropolitan Statistical Area (Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue)
3. Boston. Metropolitan Statistical Area 

This report presents the pilot phase of the AFI program. It is anticipated that the data report will be expanded to include the 50 largest metropolitan cities in the U.S., resulting in an updated ranking of those listed in this version. The long range vision for the AFI program is to provide annual updates to the rankings so cities can monitor their progress in improving health and active living fitness indicators. Underlying principles of the AFI include:

a. Physical activity and exercise are key to good health and the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases, as well as the enhanced health of communities overall.
b. Physical activity and exercise must be consistently addressed in community settings.
c. A greater focus on physical activity and exercise in community settings must be supported.
d. Communities must connect and partner with organizations and existing programs to collaborate on successful physical activity/healthy lifestyle initiatives.

The program will identify best practices at the community level that can help improve a community’s overall fitness level. These can include park space, the built environment, recreational facilities (including swimming pools), programs and policies. For more information, visit This site will be regularly updated with additional rankings, best practices in the community, and news from health promotion partners.


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.  More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

Author: Jane Moore, M.D.
Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine
Chair, USMS Sports Medicine & Science Committee