What are the healthiest cities in America? Some of the top ranking ones might surprise you.
Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine creates the American Fitness Index, a list of the healthiest cities in the U.S. based on diet and exercise habits, recreational opportunities and the prevalence of certain diseases.
Following is a collection of some of the highest-ranking metros in the country.
9. Denver, Colorado
Denver’s typically active residents enjoy the city’s ample recreational opportunities, farmers’ markets and healthy restaurants. In addition to its other healthy attributes, Denver, ninth on the list, spends more than other cities on park properties and programs. The city’s Raptor Education Foundation promotes environmental awareness and offers tours in which visitors watch bald eagles, hawks and other wildlife.
8. Seattle, Washington
This green city, fed by plenty of rainfall, has more than 11 miles of walking and biking trails; recreational sites such as Discovery Park are well-used by the city’s active residents. Joggers, cyclists, strollers, roller bladers and beach enthusiasts in Seattle spend plenty of outdoor time at Alki Beach in summer weather.
7. Portland, Oregon
A city famous for environmental initiatives, Portland also has more park land per person that any other city. It’s a good fit for the many Pacific Northwesterners who flock to take advantage of the area’s outdoor opportunities. From the plentiful parks and trails of the city to the nearby Columbia Gorge, the area is as beautiful as it is accessible. Easy access to fresh food and healthy restaurants complete the good-for-you aspects of the city.
4. San Francisco, California
With San Francisco’s focus on fitness, love of its own outdoor spaces and fine weather, it’s no wonder the percentage of obese residents is low and frequent use of the city’s farmers’ markets and recreational options is high. It’s also a city that helped start the trend of healthy gourmet eating, just across the Bay from Berkeley, the birthplace of the farm-to-table movement.
3. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is a hugely-popular city for walkers and bikers, with many residents commuting to work on two feet or two wheels. An estimated 80% of the city exercises; a relatively low smoking rate of 14% is reported, as well. Lots of healthy eating and lifestyle habits round out the health profile of this city.
2. Washington, D.C.
D.C.-area residents reportedly eat more fruits and vegetables, shop at more farmers’ markets and smoke less than most of their counterparts elsewhere in the country. They’re also an active group, making frequent use of the city’s many trails and parks. The District even closes certain roads on the weekends for recreational use.
1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
If you figured the healthiest city in the country was in the West, guess again. Minneapolis-St. Paul, tops the list this year. The city’s bike trails, parks and walking spaces help keep its citizens healthy and less likely to be overweight. They buy food from a larger per capita number of farmers’ markets — the main one dating back to 1937. And this Midwestern city can boast more golf courses, playgrounds and dog parks than other cities. All this adds up to a healthier, happier populace.
Do you live in one of these healthy hotspots, or might you relocate to one? It seems true that health, like charity, begins at home, no matter where that is!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Tyler Olson