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.
1. Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnesota
Long, cold winters and hot, humid summers are no barrier for the fit residents of the Twin Cities. The metro area boasts more parks, bike paths, running trails, tennis courts, ball fields, and golf courses than most warm-weather cities, plus several in-town lakes for kayaking, canoeing, and kiteboarding. When winter hits hardest, these people pedal to work on fatbikes and bust a sweat at the city's many top-end fitness centers, where thousands train for the region's many marathons, triathlons, and running and biking races. Also, thanks to extensive indoor skywalk systems in both cities' downtowns, workers can go for miles-long midday walks without having to brave the cold. All this exercise is paying off: Minneapolis-St. Paul has very low rates of diabetes, heart disease, and asthma and fewer disease-caused deaths than most other big cities.
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