Being fit is more than just working out, lifting weights and running on a treadmill. It’s about a healthy diet and lifestyle. People who live in active cities tend to live longer lives. Staying active is easier than it may seem; you don’t always need to break a sweat in the gym.
Believe it or not, your city’s infrastructure plays a vital role in your active lifestyle. Climate and temperature contribute to the range of outdoor activities at your disposal. Living in Hawaii allows you to frequent the beach and participate in water sports, such as surfing, diving and paddle boarding, while living in Colorado gives you access to some of the best winter sports in the country, including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
According to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese; related conditions include heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. This comes as a shock because the fitness industry is at an all-time high. “In 2014, U.S. fitness centers had a total membership of more than 54 million. The U.S. fitness centers market consists of about 34,000 membership-based exercise facilities” (statista). That being said, we still question the incline in obesity rates.
Fortunately, you don’t always need a fitness facility to stay fit. You just need a city that provides a healthy environment. Boston and Portland hold yearly runs to keep their community fit and involved. While Sacramento and Durham have local farmers markets to purchase locally grown food.
This is our geographical breakdown of America’s 25 fittest cities; it is based on infrastructure, air pollution outdoor activities and death rates. These cities tend to have residents that lead active lifestyles resulting from adventure sports and parks and recreation.
Boston, Massachusetts is ranked No. 9 according to the American Fitness Index (AFI) 2015. They are known for their outdoor adventure activities, such as, camping, hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, skiing, riding and tubing. Boston holds the Boston Marathon and Freedom Trail Run to keep their residents in shape. It is an active tour that consists of running through historic Boston. Residents also enjoy walking to work, rather than taking public transportation. Due to the vast amount of outdoor sports and lack of laziness, Boston has a low death rate from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Portland, Oregon, is ranked No. 7 according to AFI 2015. They have received this high ranking due to their sport and park systems. Portland offers a variety of aerobic activities, they have a vast amount of farmers markets and commuters like to bike and walk to work. When it comes to sports, Portland has many golf and tennis courts to choose from. With more than 70 miles of bike trails and numerous running events, Portland keeps its residents in amazing shape. They hold the Shamrock Run in March, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in May, the Helvetia Half Marathon in June and the Foot Traffic Flat in July. In the winter go skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing on Mount Hood.
With more than 200 miles of bike paths in the city San Francisco has ranked No. 4 according to the AFI 2015. They have a low percentage of residents who smoke and suffer from obesity. Their commuters prefer walking to work, over public transportation and they have a low death rate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Stay fit year-round at San Francisco’s most reliable surf spot, Ocean Beach. They are also known for their parks and recreation. Residents rent kayaks and head to Angel Island state park to explore 13 miles of trails of wildlife by foot or bike. They also enjoy visiting the famous Golden Gate Park, also known as San Francisco’s largest outdoor attraction.
Washington D.C scored 79.6 and is ranked No. 1 on the AMI 2015! The population has a low percentage of people with heart disease and a low death rate for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. They stay fit by attending farmers markets, playing sports and biking or walking to work. Whether it’s playing Frisbee at Meridian Hill Park, walking the trails at Rock Creek Park Nature Center or hiking through the Capital Crescent Trail, these residents know how to get fit and stay fit.
Ogden, Utah is the home of over “170,000 acres of National Forest Land, three ski resorts, over 210 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking and 13,000 acres of lakes connected by pristine river for paddle-sports and fishing” (visitogden.com). It’s no wonder why the residents of Odgen are so fit! The population also has a low percentage of smokers; according to AirNow, the air pollution in Ogden poses little or no risk.
San Diego received a total score of 75.6 on the AFI 2015. It’s not hard to see why: surfing, swimming, scuba diving, fishing and camping are very common. Most of the population travels to Tamarack, Tourmaline Surfing Park, Oceanside and Swami’s for good surfing. Residents looking to participate in beach sports, bike rides or walks on the boardwalk will usually make their way to Mission Beach. San Diego also has a low rate of smokers and obesity.
Denver, Colorado No. 6 according to the AMI 2015. They have shown to have low rates for obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart disease and diabetes. Denver residents have an enormous amount of outdoor recreational parks, golf courses and swimming pools at their disposal. Denver athletic club comes equipped with a bowling alley, gymnasium and outdoor recreation area. Like the other fit cities mentioned, many of Denver’s workers choose to bike and walk to work instead of using other methods of transportation. In the warmer months, they spend their time on bike trails along the South Platte River. In the winter, they stay fit by skiing in Breckenridge and snowboarding in Vail.
Hartford received a total score of 64.8 from the AFI 2015. They have a huge amount of recreation centers, parks, swimming pools and tennis courts. The residents stay fit by hunting, boating, kayaking, canoeing and camping. In the winter they spend time snowmobiling through state forests. In the summer they visit Bushnell Park for a nice run, Cornerstone Aquatics Center for a swim and Elizabeth park for relaxing walks around a scenic pond or a day of tennis on their courts. Hartford encourages good heath starting at a young age; they have a high level requirement for Physical Education classes.
Burlington is known for outdoor winter sports, and features access to some of the best skiing on the East Coast. Their community is dedicated to fitness, residents frequently visit the Burlington Bike Path year-round. It has 8 miles of paths for those who like to bike, run and walk. Citizens of Burlington stay fit by eating healthy and purchasing locally grown produce. They attend the Burlington Farmers’ Market, which is open year-round. During the warmer months the market is moved outdoors. According to AirNow, the air quality in Burlington is considered to be satisfactory.
One of the country’s most walkable cities, Sacramento, scored 71.4 on the ACME American Fitness Index 2015 survey. The majority of the population spends a lot of time focusing on their heath. They attend farmers markets for nutritious foods, bike and walk to work instead of relying on public transportation, and participate in outdoor sports. They enjoy whitewater rafting through South Fork American River, biking along the American River bicycle trail and taking leisurely walks through McKinley Park.
Salt Lake City keeps their population fit by providing its people with playgrounds, and recreational activities. But we all know residents are really staying fit through their passion for outdoor sports. Alta Ski Area is the second oldest ski resort in the country, and one of the most popular destinations for winter sports and summer hikes. Along with mountain sports, Salt Lake City has many parks available to keep their residents fit throughout the year. Liberty Park is an 80-acre public park with a jogging trail, playground and tennis court. Antelope Island State Park has 28,000 acres and provides its people with hiking, walking, running and biking opportunities.
Durham, North Carolina is rated 37 according to the Air Quality Index. The people of Durham stay fit mostly due to the immense amount of parks in the area. Some of these parks include Eno River State Park where residents can canoe, fish, camp and hike and Little River Regional Park & Natural Area, which consists of 391 acres, offering hiking, mountain biking and birding trails. Eating healthy is also what makes Durham one of the fittest cities; Residents attend the Durham Farmers’ Market for fresh locally grown and organic produce.
Fairbanks is one of the fittest cities due to their variety of outdoor sports and recreation. Residents enjoy year-round winter sports on 30 kilometers of cross-country ski trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area. They stay fit in the summer by mountain biking, running and hiking. Fairbanks gets the community together for a running race called the Midnight Sun Run; it gathers people from all over the world. Bonus: The people of Fairbanks have access to northern lights tours whenever they choose.
The population of Colorado Springs stays fit with their numerous outdoor sports, activities and attractions. They are blessed with mild year-round temperature, 9,000 acres of parks and 350 miles of scenic trails. They enjoy hiking Red Rock Canyon, biking stunning trails and whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. In the winter residents stay fit by snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, and snowmobiling. According to AirNow, the pollution in Colorado Springs poses little or no risk.
The population of Missoula continues to stay healthy by eating right, and participating in outdoor sports and recreation. Missoula has over 500 acres of city parkland and 26 miles of trails, this making it easy to get in a workout or participate in outdoor sports. They attend the Missoula Farmers’ Market for nutritious produce grown right in Western Montana. In the winter months, the majority of the population stays fit by cross-country skiing. Missoula’s ground ozone rank is “Classified by FindTheBest as Tier 10 out of 51, Missoula's ozone level of 0.057 ppm is among the best when compared to the national average of 0.07 ppm.”
Honolulu is almost always warm and sunny throughout the year which makes it the perfect location for outdoor activities. According to encyclopedia.com, “Hawaii ranks first in the United States in life expectancy, with about 76 years for men and 81 years for women. They are considered among the healthiest in the world. The state has 240 doctors and 82 dentists for every 100,000 people.” The residents of Honolulu stay fit by keeping active. With nearly 600 surfing sites, one could image that the majority of the population has taken up water sports. Some of these include surfing, body boarding, diving and canoeing. Residents also stay fit by hiking and biking through stunning parks.
Logan has an estimated population of 47,970 (bestplaces.net). Due to frequent climate changes, residents have the opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor activities. Some of these include canoeing, hiking, biking, camping, climbing, skiing, fishing and snowmobiling. The people of Logan also stay healthy buy purchasing food at the Cache Valley Gardeners Market.
Due to its warm summers and cold winters, Cambridge has a lot of outdoor activities to choose from. In the summer months the people of Cambridge enjoy hiking and biking at local parks, and canoeing, boating and kayaking along the Charles River. They also created 5K races to participate in. Some of which include the Freedom Run in June 2016 and Oktoberfest in October 2016. In the winter they go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and snow tubing.
Luckily for the people of Boulder, staying fit is easy; they are surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and 300 miles of biking and hiking trails. In the summer kayaking, rock climbing and mountain biking is popular. In the winter, downhill skiing and snowboarding are a common interest. “Outside magazine has called Boulder the No. 1 Sports Town in America. It's where some of the world's top runners, cyclists, mountain bikers and rock climbers choose to call home” (Boulder Colorado USA).
Atlanta Georgia is ranked 14 by the AFI 2015. Atlanta has had a recent increase in their number of parks and recreation centers. Therefore, it is easy to stay in shape because of the large amount of playgrounds, golf courses, parks and swimming pools and tennis courts. Biking, running and walking on the Atlanta Beltline are also very common.
The largest city in Minnesota is ranked No. 2 according to the AFI 2015, making Minneapolis a very healthy city. They have a 50-mile Grand Rounds bikeway and their paths are kept clear of snow during the winter. Residents also enjoy hiking in Minnehaha Park, canoeing on Lake Calhoun and swimming in the Hidden Falls. The majority of the population stays fit by biking and walking to work.
Virginia Beach Scored 57.5 according the study by the AFI 2015. They keep their residents fit due to the vast amount of Parks, farmers markets, golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds and outdoor sports. They go surfing, horseback riding, biking and boating. Virginia Beach is home to around 265 parks and park facilities. Some of these parks include First Landing State Park, Neptune Park, Mount Trashmore Park and Grommet Island Beach Park & Playground.
Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington. It scored 68.5 according to the AFI 2015. Staying fit is simple due to the vast amount of outdoor activities and wilderness adventures. When the weather is moderate, kayaking, biking, paddle-boarding, swimming and in-line skating are very popular. In the winter, ski resorts are at their peak. Residents stay fit by skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Northeast of Seattle is Stevens Pass which sits on 1,125 acres of Cascade Mountains and south of Seattle is Crystal Mountain with 2,600 acres.
Raleigh scored 60.1 according to the AMI 2015. Farmers markets, tennis courts, recreation centers and parks are very common. From playing golf, walking through downtown Raleigh, horseback riding, camping and swimming, Raleigh is sure to keep its residents active and fit. It also has a low death rate for cardiovascular disease. According to AirNow, Raleigh’s air pollution is rated 32 which causes little or no risk.
Cincinnati is full of farmers markets, parks, dog parks, playgrounds, golf courses, recreation centers, swimming pools and tennis courts. Cincinnati parks are common ground for residents looking to work out and stay fit. They offer nature centers, and pathways for biking and running. One of the most popular trails is Ault Park Trails. It is a 1.4 mile loop and is primarily used for mountain biking and hiking.