A new year is here and with it new beginnings. If your resolutions include a big life change like buying a home, consider what your new lifestyle will look like. How will the place you choose to live shape your day-to-day routine and contribute to your overall health and wellness? Should your new house have a park nearby? Will your morning commute leave you stuck in traffic, or will you be cruising through the bike lane?
Where you live plays an important role in getting—and staying—in shape. In the right city, being fit isn’t a chore; when its core to the community around you, it simply becomes a way of life. To find the healthiest cities in the U.S., Trulia looked at ten key factors for the 100 largest metros in the country, including the percent of adults who report biking or walking to work and the percent of residents who exercise regularly, among others (you can read the full methodology below). We then calculated which cities ranked highest in each category, and overall, to determine the winners. Check out which cities landed on our fit list this year.
Salt Lake City is the perfect base camp for sports and outdoor enthusiasts. Utah’s capital has the most sports teams and leagues, and the most sporting goods stores per household of any of the top 100 metro areas in the United States. Locals love to hike, bike, and snowboard in the nearby Wasatch Mountains, which are teeming with valley trails and ski resorts. And they do it often—with 82 percent of residents having exercised in the past month.
With activities ranging from bobsledding in Olympic Park, home to the 2002 winter games and now a training facility for everyday athletes, to year-round river rafting and amenities like convenient bike lanes in the city center, there’s something for everyone in Salt Lake City. Thinking about where to start? Check out the Sugar House neighborhood, home to Sugar House Park with 110 acres of rolling hills, lakes, walking paths, and views sure to inspire an outdoor expedition.
With a temperate climate and year-round sunshine, West Palm Beach residents have plenty of opportunities to enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation. This spot in the Sunshine State and its immediate surrounding area has dedicated 15 percent of its land to green space, beaches, and landmarks—ranking number two in the park space category.
With miles of trails in Okeeheelee Park, more than 160 golf courses, and neighborhoods like nearby Wellington, known for its horseback riding and polo fields, West Palm Beach has plenty of outdoor activities. And it has the second-most recreational dance companies (including ballet and contemporary) of the top 100 metro areas.
Orange County boasts the ultimate SoCal lifestyle, with 42 miles of beaches, sun-soaked days, and sprawling wilderness and nature parks with miles of trails and coastal preserves to explore. A full 14 percent of public land consists of green space and landmarks, which puts the OC at the number three spot in this category.
From surfing in Laguna Beach and kayaking in Newport Harbor to and hiking in Peters Canyon Regional Park and Crystal Cove State Park, it’s no wonder that 85 percent of residents say they’ve exercised in the last month.
This urban city surrounded by natural beauty inspires residents to get out of their cars and bike or walk their daily commute. As a result, Seattle ranks 9th out of 100 cities in the bike-to-work category. There’s no shortage of ways to get out and explore this nature-filled mecca.
Spectacular hiking trails abound in the wilderness areas of Discovery Park, Mount Si, and Mount Rainier, while water trails for kayakers dot the coastline. Cyclists love cruising the 27-mile Burke-Gilman Trail, which traverses the city, while health nuts in the Beacon Hill neighborhood tend a 7-acre community food garden. Seattle also ranked 6th in our list for diet and weight-loss centers, making it easy for residents to integrate health and wellness into their everyday life.
It’s easy to find space to enjoy the outdoors in Fort Lauderdale. It ranks number one on our list for parks, with 37 percent of public land dedicated to green space that everyone can enjoy. Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Everglades, where Florida’s wilderness is easily accessible.
Kayakers and paddleboarders enjoy the serenity of the coastal waters, golfers try their best at more than 40 courses throughout the city, and cyclists zip along scenic bicycle routes like the Hollywood Boardwalk and Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard. The city ranks 17th in sports instruction, too, which means amateur athletes will have plenty of company when learning a new sport.
It’s easy to be inspired by Charleston’s sports teams, who remind residents that a little friendly competition never hurt anyone. From RiverDogs baseball to Stingrays hockey to Battery soccer, the city is ranked second for its number of leagues, teams, and sports clubs, providing ample motivation to move.
With easy access for water sports, world-class golf courses, equestrian centers, and plenty of road space for cyclists and pedestrians, especially during summer in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood, where streets are closed to traffic, allowing residents to use the space for recreational purposes, the outdoor opportunities are rich in Charleston. If the weather isn’t perfect, or if you prefer to focus more on your reps than your miles, note that the city is ranked third in number of gyms per household.
Referred to as “Boston’s Left Bank,” Cambridge is known as one of the nation’s intellectual centers, thanks to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lesser known, but also important to Cambridge residents who may not enjoy contending with winter weather in their recreational pursuits, the city ranks second in the number of gyms.
When the snow has melted, though, cyclists come out in force. It’s no wonder the city has an official bicycle committee and was awarded honorable mention for best biking city by Bicycle Magazine. It’s also notable that Cambridge ranks fifth in sports instruction, the highest of any city on our list.
Across the Charles River from our number seven healthiest metro, Boston is a city where residents are dedicated to cycling to work, even if they have to brave the bitter cold. It’s the second-highest city in our top 10 list for that distinction.
This historic city is also ideal for benchwarmers who would rather avoid winter’s chill and watch a professional sporting event (like baseball, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and football) than get suited up to fully participate, ranking third in the top 100 for the abundance of its league clubs.
With an annual average temperature of 70 degrees and 70 miles of sun-drenched coastline, outdoor adventure is a year-round pursuit in San Diego. The city ranked 10th in exercise, with 83 percent of residents reporting that they regularly break a sweat. Water sports enthusiasts choose between surfing, paddle-boarding, sailing, scuba, and kayaking at La Jolla Shores or Carlsbad Lagoon, while land-lovers take advantage of the diverse topography, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, golfing, and hiking beachside along sandstone bluffs or inland at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
With so many options, its a good thing San Diego residents don’t have to worry about finding the right gear; the city ranks 16th out of 100 for number of sporting goods stores per household.
Many residents have fallen in love with San Francisco—thanks to its expansive park space, hilly topography, and ample coastline—and have found it an ideal place to work exercise into daily life. San Francisco is ranked number one of cities where residents bike and walk to work, with 9 percent of people reporting that they do so. With a wealth of bike paths and great routes to ride, like across the Golden Gate Bridge, the city respects its cyclists. But with great urban hiking trails in Golden Gate Park and Land’s End, as well as nearby spots like Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo, Angel Island, and Point Reyes National Seashore, San Francisco is a great spot to get out and about. Healthy foodies here enjoy a wealth of grocery stores, with 77 stores per 100,000 residents.
What city would you most like to live in to get in shape? Tell us in the comments below!
METHODOLOGY: We sourced health and exercise data for the largest 100 metro areas in the US from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Census Bureau, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our criteria included the percent of adults that report biking or walking to work for their commute; the percent of residents who reported exercising the previous month; the percent of metro area devoted to park space; the ratio of the following compared to population size: fitness and recreation sports centers, sporting goods stores, sports and recreation instruction, sports leagues and clubs, diet and weight loss centers, dance companies, and grocery stores, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Using this criteria, we calculated which metro areas ranked the highest in each category, and overall. Metro areas that ranked the highest overall were named the top 10 healthiest cities.