Sure, L.A. has legions of beach-jogging hardbodies and Portland practically has more bike riders than motorists. But neither of these is America's healthiest city. That title belongs to frigid, landlocked Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, where chiseled abs hide beneath bulky parkas and subzero temps don't stop residents from strapping on the Yaktrax and hitting the trails.
Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine uses its American Fitness Index to rank the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas from fittest to fattest. A multitude of factors determine each city's ranking including the number of fitness centers, farmers' markets, golf courses, and parks per capita, as well as access to health care. The organization also pulls data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other institutions to assess residents' individual physical and mental health, fitness levels, and eating habits, as well as overall rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions. After some serious number crunching, they come up with the list.
Minneapolis-St. Paul cleaned up in almost every category in 2013, earning it top honors for the third year in a row thanks to its ample running trails, tennis courts, golf courses, and several in-town lakes for kayaking, canoeing, and kiteboarding. Here is a closer look at the rest of their picks for the fittest cities and why each metro is an especially great spot for health-minded guys.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
Outsiders might think Boston is all Sully and Fitzy sipping Smithwick's over creamy clam chowder, but residents know this stereotype is off. This notoriously smart city is also super fit and prioritizes healthy eating. Even though Boston doesn't have as many community resources such as golf courses and pools as other high-ranking cities, it has plenty of parks, and is a hotspot for commuting by bike or foot and regular exercise. As a result, obesity rates are low and mental health is one of the higher on the list. Boston also boasts excellent health care facilities that most residents can actually take advantage of, thanks to almost universal healthcare in Massachusetts. Research shows that increased care access has already led to improvements in overall physical and mental well-being.
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