The Fittest Cities in America: 2017

New York City Marathon
Michael Reaves/Getty

Americans don’t have a great reputation for being ultra-healthy—but a few cities stand out as hubs of weight-lifting, protein-consuming, muscle-building excellence.

Now we know exactly where those hubs are, thanks to a yearly ranking of America’s fittest metropolitan areas, dubbed the American Fitness Index, released Tuesday by the American College of Sports Medicine.

The ranking takes multiple factors into account, including each area’s percent of people who do the government-recommended amount of aerobic activity, smoking rates, and the obesity rates. (See the full methodology behind the ranking here.)

Here are the top 20 fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, in order, ranked by the ACSM:

  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  2. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-MD-WV
  3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  6. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  7. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  9. Salt Lake City, UT
  10. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  11. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA
  12. Austin-Round Rock, TX
  13. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
  14. Raleigh, NC
  15. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  16. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  17. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  18. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  19. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  20. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

America, it seems, is getting slightly healthier nationwide: In 2016, 16% more people met government aerobic activity guidelines, and 10.5% fewer people were diagnosed with heart problems like angina or coronary heart disease, the ACSM found. Despite those gains, however, diabetes and obesity have both become more prevalent. 

Fitbit also released a ranking of the fittest cities based on—you guessed it—data collected anonymously from fitness trackers around the country. The data, taken from over 10 million Fitbit trackers, includes daily steps, minutes of activity, resting heart rate, and sleep duration. 

Here are Fitbit’s top 20 cities, in order: 

  1. Duluth, MN
  2. Appleton, WI
  3. Eau Claire, WI
  4. Boulder, CO
  5. Bellingham, WA
  6. Madison, WI
  7. Billings, MT
  8. Rochester, MN
  9. Spokane, WA
  10. Eugene, OR
  11. Green Bay, WI
  12. Denver, CO
  13. Portland, OR
  14. Sioux Falls, SD
  15. Lincoln, NE
  16. Syracuse, NY
  17. Rochester, NY
  18. Grand Rapids, MI
  19. Janesville, WI
  20. Minneapolis, MN

The fittest state in Fitbit’s ranking is Wisconsin, which has three cities in the top 10 and five in the top 20. Some notable cities that missed Fitbit’s cut this year, but made it in 2016: Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. (Check out a detailed analysis of Fitbit’s 2016 data here.)

To account for some of those discrepancies, we compared Fitbit’s rankings against the ACSM’s, combining some of the cities to form larger metro areas and re-ranking them based on the averages. We found that three places appeared on both lists, and one came very close.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is first in the ACSM ranking and eighth in Fitbit’s (we averaged the rankings of Duluth, Rochester, Eau Claire, and Minneapolis). The Seattle-Tacoma area is fourth in the ACSM list and fifth on Fitbit’s (we considered Bellingham to be in the Seattle metro, even though it’s closer to Vancouver, Canada). Denver holds the seventh spot in the ACSM ranking and the sixth in Fitbit’s (including Boulder in the Denver metro area). Portland holds eighth place in the ACSM ranking and 12th in Fitbit’s (including Eugene in the Portland metro area).

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