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.
2. Washington, D.C.
Guys know how to get fit in the nation's capital. They skirt traffic jams by biking to work and run circles around the city's miles of monuments, outdoor malls, and parks. And with an off-the-charts number of swimming pools, plus plenty of tennis courts, rec centers, and dog parks throughout the metro, staying active is easy. The residents eat healthy too. D.C. has way more farmers' markets than in most big cities. As a result, they average five or more servings of fruit and veggies a day, which plays a role in the city's low prevalence of heart disease. D.C. residents also have ready access to more top-notch health care facilities and providers than people in most metropolitans do, which never hurts.
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