25 Least Fit Cities in the U.S.

25 Least Fit Cities in the U.S.

Oklahoma City has been among the least fit cities in the country at least for two years. Even though there are a fair number of parks and farmer’s markets, people don’t seem to be taking advantage of them – 32.1 percent of the people in the county are obese. The smoking rate is also high, at 23.8 percent. Heart disease and cancer-related deaths are on the rise as well. Cancer cases have been reported in 523.3 per 100,000 people, compared to an average of 460.5 for the rest of the U.S.

1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City has been among the least fit cities in the country at least for two years. Even though there are a fair number of parks and farmer’s markets, people don’t seem to be taking advantage of them – 32.1 percent of the people in the county are obese. The smoking rate is also high, at 23.8 percent. Heart disease and cancer-related deaths are on the rise as well. Cancer cases have been reported in 523.3 per 100,000 people, compared to an average of 460.5 for the rest of the U.S.

2. Miami, Florida

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You would think that living in a city that is sunny and warm year-round and full of scantily-clad residents and tourists would encourage people to stay in shape. That is not the case in Miami. Although 66.5 percent have exercised in the last month, only 16.2 percent meet the CD standards, according to AFI. The city reports lower number of deaths due to heart diseases and diabetes but the city lacks enough recreational facilities, except for pools. Even tennis courts are fewer than the target rate of 2 per 10,000 residents.

3. Memphis, Tennessee

The state’s requirements for PhysEd classes are low. Just 10 percent meet the CDC aerobic and strength activity guidelines, which often require just 30 minutes of cardio exercises a day. More than a fifth are smoking, and their dietary habits are quite a cause for concern. According to the AFI, just 19.9 eat more than two fruits a day and 12 percent consume 3+ vegetables. As a result, 34.9 percent of residents are obese, and nearly 35 percent of city residents have chronic health problems.

4. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis has also been on the list of unfit cities for at least two years in a row. It has a lot of farmer’s markets but it falls short in almost every other category. People like to play golf – and have many places to do so – but they don’t work out beyond that. Too many smoke (20.5 percent) and they don’t eat healthy. The obese rate is 32.1 percent, well above the target of 21.3. All kinds of recreational facilities, except golf courses, are under the target goal as well.

5. Los Angeles, California

California is considered one of the fittest states in the country. Four major CA cities made the top ranks compared to two that fell in the “least fit” category. The City of Los Angeles is one of them. Even though people bike and walk a lot – probably because they want to avoid their infamous traffic jams – obesity has increased among adults as well as adolescents. From 22 percent in 2007, the rate has gone up to 23.9 percent. Death rates for cardiovascular diseases and debates are higher than the target. Los Angeles could also use more parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools to increase the number of active people.

6. Birmingham, Alabama

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Birmingham the country’s second most obese city, according to data from Statistic Brain Research Institute – just over 31 percent. For many residents, the local convenience store is the primary food source, with cheap but unhealthy food options. About 31 percent of adults in Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham, the state's largest city, reported no physical activity in the last 30 days, according to the CDC.

7. Louisville, Kentucky

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Louisville has plenty of parks and tennis courts but its residents don’t exercise much and don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Public transportation is badly designed so the majority of people drive a car, and carpools and bike commutes are almost non-existent. The adult obesity rate is 27.6 percent, compared to 30 percent in the state. On the basis of its high heart disease and diabetes rates, Louisville was ranked the fifth-unhealthiest city in America, according to the CDC.

8. Orlando, Florida

Orlando has a lot of public parks, swimming pools, recreational centers and playgrounds but it looks like they are not in use very often. In the Orlando-Kissimmee Metro Area, the percentage of people who are overweight, obese and don’t work out at all is 37.4, 28.3 and 25.3, according to government data. The level of state-required gym classes is also low. The city’s walk score is just 39.3, compared to a target of 51.1, according to AFI.

9. Cleveland, Ohio

More than one in every three (34.1 percent) Cleveland adults were obese when surveyed during 2005 through 2009. The rate has dropped to 28.7 last year since the city stepped up its game and built more playgrounds and park facilities, but the city still has too many residents who smoke, don’t exercise often, and eat junk food. Cleveland has high rates of death related to heart conditions and diabetes. Somewhat surprisingly, there are 10.7 swimming pools per 100,000 residents even though the target is just 3.1.

10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada is among the least obese states but Las Vegas is among the least fit cities in the country. Too many residents smoke, don’t exercises often, don’t walk as much as they should, and don’t have a healthy diet. The obesity rate is 28.2 percent. Clark County, of which Las Vegas is part, has a problem with obesity and tobacco use. Approximately 60 percent of adults in the county are overweight or obese, and less than 25 percent of adults meet the Federal government's guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption, according to the CDC.

11. Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford has degraded from one of the fittest cities in the country to among the least fit, but it’s not at the bottom of the list. Public places where people can exercises are plenty; the walk score is also exceptional. Even the number of people cycling to work is satisfactory by official standards. But the obesity rate is still high – 27.7 percent – and fewer people are exercising on regular basis. Just over a quarter of the population meets CDC standards, compared to a target goal of at least 32.2 percent.

12. San Antonio, Texas

The problem in San Antonio as it relates to fitness is lack of public facilities to exercise. Residents don’t smoke as much as in other cities in the state and eat better, but, in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, 65.7 percent of adults are overweight or obese. The adult diabetes rate is 26.6 percent, according to City-Data. Nearly 28 percent of San Antonio area deaths each year are attributed to cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association claims. 

13. Detroit, Michigan

People in Detroit not only like to make cars, they love to drive them all the time too. Few residents report riding a bike or using public transportation to get to work. As much as 34, 33.1 and 28.3 percent in the Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn Metro Division are overweight, obese and don’t exercise at all, respectively, according to government data. The death rate for cardiovascular disease and diabetes is 236.9 and 24.8 per 100,000, much higher than the target.

14. Houston, Texas

A 2010 report shows that 27.7 percent of adults in Houston were obese, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The number in 2015, according to AFI, is 28.5. The big city in the Lone Star State is not doing much to reverse the trend as there are still fewer playgrounds, park units and recreations centers than targeted. Residents don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables abut drink too much sugar-sweetened beverages and don’t work out. Schools don’t set good standards – just 9.8 percent always offered fruits or non-fried vegetables in vending machines and school stores.

15. New York, New York

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In New York City, obesity is an epidemic: More than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight (34 percent) or obese (22 percent), according to the NYC Department of Health. Only 26 percent of New Yorkers engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week. The city has many parks but not nearly enough recreational centers when people, especially kids, can go when the temperatures drop. Many people consider themselves active but only 23.1 percent meet the CDC guidelines.

16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The percentage of overweight or obese high school students in 25 percent for Wisconsin and 37 percent for the Milwaukee Public School District, according to state’s data. Adults don’t fare much better – 28.3 are obese. A fifth of the city’s population is smoking. The rates for people with asthma and those who have died as a result of a heart conditions are high. Milwaukee has a lot of golf courses but not enough swimming pools, parks and playgrounds.

17. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is surrounded by national parks and there are many more within a short drive, but that doesn’t keep people very active even though the deaths due to heart problems are relatively low. Just a quarter of the residents meet CDC aerobic and strength requirements and few eat enough fruits and vegetables every day.  The obesity rate is 25.7 percent. Data also show that the city doesn’t have enough recreational centers, parks and playgrounds.

18. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is known for its amazing, but fatty, foods and residents take full advantage. The result is 64 percent of adults in 2010 and 34 percent of high school students in 2007 being overweight or obese, according to the state’s Department of Health. In 2002, 26.1 percent of adults in New Orleans were obese, compared to 31.4 percent in 2010. It hasn’t changed much since then. The city has a high rate for diabetes – 12.3 percent. Many residents also smoke on regular basis.

19. Charlotte, North Carolina

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According to a report from the CDC, the obesity rate among high school students in Charlotte­Mecklenburg was 12 percent; and 60 percent did not attend gym classes on one or more days during the school week. Bad habits seem to follow them through adulthood. As much as 28 percent of adults are obese, 35 percent are overweight and 22.6 don’t exercise at all. Unhealthy dietary behaviors are common. More than 72 percent ate fruits less than twice a day and more than 90 percent consumed vegetables fewer than three times a day, according to the a CDC report.

20. Dallas, Texas

The extremely delicious but very unhealthy Tex-Mex barbecue is very popular in Dallas. The problem is that people don’t burn off the calories they’ve just consumed. Residents don’t exercise much – only 62 percent have done anything in the last month – and they don’t really have a lot of places to work out. According to AFI, the city is missing enough of all kinds of entertaining facilities – baseball fields, playgrounds, parks, recreational centers and swimming pools. The walk score of Dallas is also low – just 43.6.

21. Riverside, California

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Riverside is the second city in California that ranks poor in fitness. There are a lot of good parks but not as many where people can stay active. The adult obesity rate is just over 24 percent. People don’t walk much, few ride a bike to work and even fewer use public transportation – just 1.5 percent. Fast food consumption has risen in Riverside County, with more residents eating the bad stuff much more often than fruits or vegetables.

22. Tampa, Florida

Despite numerous parks, pools, golf courses and playgrounds, obesity is a major issue in Tampa. Needless to say, if residents want to stay active, they can. But the obesity rate is high – almost 28 percent. People don’t report doing a lot of exercises even though they walk more than many others. The walk score (46), however, is well above the target number (51), according to AFI. More than a fifth of residents say they don’t work out at all, according to government data.

23. Nashville, Tennessee

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Nashville is not in good shape – as many as 34.5 percent of its residents are obese! Davidson County, which includes the city, has an adult obesity rate of 24.7 percent with an additional 37.4 percent of Davidson County adults being overweight. About a third of the adolescents in Nashville are overweight, the CDC reports. The cause is poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Only 31 percent of students participate in daily physical education classes at school and 26.7 percent say they don’t exercise at all.

24. Buffalo, New York

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Buffalo offers a lot of recreational facilities, including parks. As a result, people walk a lot – their walk score is 64.9 – and bike to work. However, not enough use public transport, sitting in their cars too long, and many smoke. People don’t eat right and don’t do aerobic or strength exercises, according to AFI. That contributes to the obesity rate of 24.2 percent and the high number of deaths related to heart conditions and diabetes. 

25. Providence, Rhode Island

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Many adults in Providence report serious health conditions, according to a health assessment by the state’s Department of Health. Roughly one-third of adults have high blood pressure. Smoking rates have declined but obesity rates have remained high – about 28 percent, as per AFI, slightly higher than the state.