These Are the 15 Fittest Cities in America
Considering a move to a fitter town? Or wondering how your city ranks against the rest of the country? Check out these results.
Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine releases a ranking of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. based on their health and fitness initiatives. The resulting ASCM American Fitness Index is calculated using 33 indicators, such as personal health behaviors of residents (exercise, healthy eating, smoking), recreational facilities (swimming pools, tennis courts), community/environment (farmers markets, parks), and more. In 2018, the health-minded state of California had four cities in the top 15, but others on this list may surprise you—including the top spot.
15. Boston, Massachusetts
Despite its brutal winters, Boston ranked second on the list for residents walking or biking to work, as well as fourth in walkability and second for parks within a 10-minute walk. This summer, the Boston Harborwalk launched a free public fitness program called HarborFit, offering free workouts like kayaking, yoga, Zumba, boot camp, and group runs several times per week. The city’s Emerald Necklace Conservancy, comprised of six parks, also provides many options for fitness activities, from hiking to golf to softball.
14. San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate City took top honors on the index for most parks within a 10-minute walk, and also for vegetable consumption; 27.5 percent of residents get at least three servings a day. It also ranked among the top 10 cities for walkability, walking or biking to work, aerobic activity, and lowest rates of heart disease. One of the best ways to sightsee is via bicycle, and Ford GoBike, the area’s newest bike share system, makes it fun and affordable. The city also claims to be the top bike rental destination in the country. Check out the most bike-friendly city in every single state.
13. Irvine, California
Preserved natural habitats and wildlands are abundant in Irvine, which ranked in the top ten cities for fewest smokers and highest percentage of parkland. A place where community co-exists with nature, manicured office parks here are surrounded by 16,000 acres of open space, parks, and sports fields. Cyclists will find more than 300 miles of on-road cycling lanes and 50 miles of off-road bike trails, and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy has 50,000 acres of permanently protected land for exploring.
12. Plano, Texas
Residents of this city outside Dallas aren’t overdoing the Texas barbecue and cornbread. They rank among the lowest in the country for heart disease—and the highest overall for hitting both aerobic and strength activity guidelines. They’re getting help from the city’s 56 miles of recreational trails and numerous recreation centers. The city also ranked among the best for getting seven or more hours of sleep per night and had one of the lowest rates of poor mental health. Here are more of the happiest states in America.
11. Oakland, California
Residents living on the “Bright Side of the Bay” (it gets less fog than San Francisco) ranked among the top ten cities in terms of low heart disease rates, fewest smokers, and residents consuming at least two or more servings of fruit per day. Options for outdoor activity abound here, too. Oakland’s 100,000 acres of parks and trails make it a playground for fitness enthusiasts: Just 20 minutes from downtown, hiking paths in the Oakland Hills weave through redwood groves; the Roberts Recreation Area in Roberts Park is home to a swimming pool, sand volleyball court, and baseball fields. Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? If you live in one of the most surveilled cities in the world, you might be.
10. Boise, Idaho
The capital city of Idaho topped the charts for aerobic activity, with nearly 64 percent of residents meeting exercise guidelines. Boise also ranked high for strengthening activities and exercise overall. Near the center of town, the 25-mile riverside Greenbelt is a popular spot for runners and walkers. The Ridge to Rivers trail takes hikers into the scenic foothills surrounding the town; there are also trails to explore via horseback or bike. These are the 20 best hiking trails across America.
9. San Jose, California
Though it came in ninth overall, San Jose ranked first among the collective personal health indicators, thanks to residents that score high in measures of exercise, vegetable consumption, and low rates of smoking, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, and stroke. With more than 300 days of sunshine, the city is home to many options for exploring the outdoors, including 60 miles of developed trails—one of the nation’s largest urban trail networks.
8. St. Paul, Minnesota
This city gets points for its parks: St. Paul ranked among the top 10 for the number of parks per 10,000 residents and parks within a 10-minute walk. It’s also known as one of the country’s most bicycle-friendly cities, according to Bicycle Magazine, with 84 miles of dedicated bike paths and 44 miles of designated bike lanes on city streets. St. Paul makes it easy for newbies to get outfitted with proper gear, too. The Twin Cities are home to more than 50 bike shops. Check out the U.S. bike trails with the best views.
7. Denver, Colorado
The Mile-High City ranks fourth in the nation for exercise. It also earned high marks for having residents that get at least two servings of fruit a day and snoozing seven or more hours a night. Denver’s more than 5,000 acres of parks and parkways, plus 14,000 acres of mountain parks, are prime for exploring. Washington Park, in particular, is a favorite for its active options such as an indoor pool, jogging path, fitness course, soccer field, tennis courts, and more.