San Diego bicycle commuters. Photo courtesy SANDAG

San Diego is the third-fittest metropolitan area in the U.S., according to the eighth annual American Fitness Index released Tuesday by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation.

The report was based on such criteria as park and recreation centers per capita, consuming two or more fruits and three or more vegetables per day, meeting aerobic activity guidelines, number of farmers’ markets, and percentage of commuters who walk or ride bicycles.

The ACSM, which begins its 62nd annual conference in San Diego next week, also looked at the percentage of the population afflicted with diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

“The AFI is two things — a measure of how healthy a metro area is today, and a call-to-action for urban and suburban leaders to design infrastructures that promote active lifestyles and lead to positive health outcomes,” said Walter Thompson, chairman of the AFI Advisory Board. “Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life.”

San Diego scored well in most categories, but had a higher level of residents with asthma and diabetes. Curiously, the region had less golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools per capita than other cities, according to the index.

The Washington, D.C., area ranked first, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul, the ACSM reported. San Francisco and Oakland ranked fourth, Sacramento fifth and San Jose 10th.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.