Do You Live in One of the Most Physically Fit Cities?

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By Peggy Hattendorf - Travel Editor


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)* released its listing of the fittest American cities. The Top Ten Picks include these named city and the surrounding metro areas:

  1. Washington, DC – The U.S. political and governmental center has a youthful population drawn to the city for employment. With its abundance of green space, runners can be seen in the parks or jogging along the Potomac. Smoking rates are lower than other cities its size.
  2. Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN – These cities make the most of the few warm months of the year to enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of parks, bike paths, public swimming pools, tennis courts and green spaces.
  3. Denver, CO – The Mile High City is blessed by its proximity to some of the best ski resorts and Rocky Mountain National Park. Healthy year-round activities abound.
  4. Portland, OR – Many residents live within walking distance of a park or green space. With mild year-round temperatures, it makes outdoor exercise enjoyable. There’s a health conscious pulse in this city.
  5. San Francisco, CA – Residents of many neighborhoods are within walking distance of a park. Moreover, there’s Golden Gate Park, a treasure in the city, with its trails, picnic groves, gardens, lakes, playgrounds, and the museums to keep up the activity level.
  6. Seattle, WA – This is a city that enjoys hiking, biking, and jogging. With its lakes and access to parks, there is a high population that fit in exercise and physical activity on a regular basis.
  7. Boston, MA – Walkers, bikers, and joggers can be found exercising along the banks of the Charles while school crew teams row along the famed river. With a large percentage of green space and parks, most residents are within easy walking distance.
  8. Salt Lake City, UT – With world class ski resorts within driving distance, this is an outdoor paradise. The city makes the list in part due to the large Mormon population as the Church of the Latter Day Saints discourages smoking and drinking.
  9. Hartford, CT – As the headquarters for a number of law firms and insurance companies, many of these companies encourage fitness and have in-house health facilities. The city is enhanced with parks, baseball diamonds and swimming pools to encourage high activity levels. Smoking rates are low too.
  10. San Diego, CA – With its all around great weather, and 70 miles of coastline for swimming and surfing, this is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground. There’s a general health conscious vibe about the city.

The distinctive characteristics of these cities that equate to better overall health appear to be: greater access to parks and proximity to recreational facilities. This apparently encourages healthier behaviors and high levels of activity, which cause lower rates of obesity, smoking, and chronic illnesses due to a health conscious mentality. Curiously missing are cities in the South, where there are lots of outdoor recreational facilities and activities, but food preparation includes more fried meals.

*Data and research from – U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and the Trust for Public Land.

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