5 Cities for Fitness Buffs
Staying in shape can be difficult in even the best of circumstances, but living in certain places can definitely make it harder. Without fresh, healthy food (food desert) or access to places where you can exercise, keeping fit becomes a serious challenge.
There are countless ways to keep yourself fit, but whether you’re into walking, running, climbing, or biking, you still need somewhere to do it. So if your body is your temple and you want to take care of it, here are a few places where staying fit is a lot easier.
The nation’s capital is known for a lot of things, but fitness isn’t typically one of them. Nevertheless, Washington, D.C. boasts a healthy population and ranks second overall on the American Fitness Index. Although D.C. is a bustling metro, the city still sports an impressive number of places to exercise outside, as green space is a priority.
Researchers at ValuePenguin rated D.C.’s healthy food access above that of cities like Colorado Springs and even Portland, OR. With embassies and international centers dotting the area, the capital city features a variety of international restaurants for just about any tastes. And for people who like to test their body’s limits, D.C. has an excellent health system and one of the highest rates of people with health coverage in the country.
Often parodied for its zealous obsession with healthy, organic eating on the comedy sketch Portlandia, it should come as no surprise that Portland made the list. Portland residents take their health very seriously. The city prioritizes equal access for all its residents to things like parks, public spaces and community events.
Portland also prioritizes air and water quality. The Benson Bubblers are an excellent example. These bubbling fountains dot the city and provide clean, fresh drinking water from Bull Run that flows 17 hours a day.
For those who just can’t be contained by rain, Portland temperatures rarely drop below freezing, meaning you can get your fill of outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. And if you just need snow in your life, nearby Mount Hood provides a ski season that stretches into May.
California’s capital is also the fitness capital of the state. Situated less than three hours away from three national parks – Pinnacles, Lassen Volcanic, and Yosemite National Parks – Sacramento offers a slew of outdoor fitness options. And with 226 parks totaling close to 3,200 acres, you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy the outdoors.
And the people of Sacramento definitely take advantage of their city’s fitness offerings. The city hosts a variety of 10ks, marathons, and fun runs and doesn’t skimp on indoor offerings like climbing gyms. And in Davis, a Sacramento suburb, over 23% of the population commutes on a bike – the highest percentage in the nation.
As anyone who has lived in one can attest, mountain towns keep you fit. Most offer an abundance of outdoor recreation – from skiing to river rafting – and in Colorado it shows. According to the State of Obesity, a non-profit that puts out an annual report on obesity in the United States, Colorado boasts the lowest rate of obesity in the country by a significant amount.
Even in one of the healthiest states in the country, Denver stands out. The metro is regularly ranked among the fittest cities in the country by the American Fitness Index and is currently ranked 7th. And in 2015 Food & Wine ranked Denver as the healthiest eating city in the country.
Denver locals can enjoy a concert on Friday night at the world famous Red Rocks Amphitheater, then return the next morning where BMX star Joe Hendricks hosts a brutal 3-hour workout in the venue.
Financial advice site SmartAsset releases an annual fitness ranking based on cities’ fitness professionals and year after year Missoula ranks in the top 5, most recently taking the top spot. In fact, according to the same report, Missoula has the “most fitness professionals” per capita in the country. But that’s just indoor recreation.
Missoula is situated at the convergence of five different mountain ranges granting its residents access to anything from disc golf to fly-fishing. When the weather turns, locals can go ice fishing, skiing, or even hike to a natural hot springs.
Its residents run the gamut from loggers to hippies, meaning just about anyone can find a community that fits them. And you definitely won’t be out of place if you like to stay fit and healthy – Montana residents have the fourth lowest rate of obesity in the U.S.