Minneapolis-St. Paul reclaims 'fittest city' crown from fitness rival Washington D.C.

Look at all those fit folks at Lake Calhoun

Look at all those fit folks at Lake Calhoun Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

We know Washington, D.C., has the nation's highest concentration of clowns (#politics), but for the past three years it has also claimed a more desirable distinction: fittest city.  

A new, albeit familiar, champion emerged Tuesday in the American College of Sports Medicine's latest American Fitness Index, however: Minneapolis-St. Paul!

The Twin Cities and D.C. have waged an athletic dog fight atop the AFI rankings for years. Minneapolis-St. Paul reigned from 2011-'13, then the nation's capital snatched the throne from 2014-'16. 

But we're back, baby. 

So what, exactly, are we best at? At having low rates of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and smoking, plus having surplus farmers markets, parks, and playgrounds, according to the annual study of 50 major metropolitan areas.

Here's Dr. Pamela Peeke, a Minneapolis-based spokesperson for ACSM, on how great we are. 

“This is where health happens,” she tells Today. “I like to walk outside even in the winter because it’s gorgeous.”

Year over year, the report shows a 16 percent increase nationally in the number of people who get the recommended amount of exercise. Diagnoses of chest pain and heart disease dipped by 10 percent.

Peeke says our archrivals in D.C. slipped because of decreased investment in their parks system. At least one new resident scarfs on Lay’s potato chips and "can go for days without breathing in fresh outside air," the New York Times reports, so that can't help.

Anyway, Minneapolis-St. Paul is the best, better than everyone else. For more context, here's a look at each end of the 2017 AFI rankings. 

10 fittest cities

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul
2. Washington, D.C.
3. San Francisco
4. Seattle
5. San Jose, California
6. Boston
7. Denver
8. Portland, Oregon
9. Salt Lake City
10. San Diego

10 least fit cities 

41. Columbus, Ohio
42. Nashville, Tennessee
43. Detroit
44. San Antonio
45. Memphis, Tennessee
46. Birmingham, Alabama
47. Charlotte, N.C.
48. Indianapolis
49. Oklahoma City
50. Louisville, Kentucky