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.
4. San Francisco, California
Notoriously healthy San Fran ranks high for having low rates of diabetes and heart disease and very few smokers. The city is famous for its healthy food scene and bounty of fresh, locally-grown produce. This makes eating right at home or out on the town a whole lot easier than in, say, low-ranking New Orleans, where fried-catfish po'boys are de rigeur. As far as fitness goes, the city's temperate climate makes it easy for residents to take full advantage of the many parks and trails, not to mention the easy access to several state parks, shorelines, and open spaces nearby that offer great hiking, biking, and bouldering. One knock against the Bay Area is many people report having not-so-great mental health. We're betting the sky-high cost of living and stress-ridden tech world play a big part in that.
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