Being fit is about more than lifting weights and cardio. After all, it’s often said that abs are made in the kitchen. But experts report you don’t have to ditch your favorite foods to qualify as fit. Incorporating some fruits and veggies daily, getting enough sleep, and walking to work can be enough. Another potential factor? Where you live! That’s why we mapped the healthiest cities in America and looked for location trends. We’ve also included the habits experts recommend along with each city to explore in the map below.
View America’s Fittest Cities in a full screen map
We pulled the map’s data about the health behaviors of the U.S.’s 100 largest cities from American College of Sports Medicine’s Fitness Index. They identified a population’s tendency towards things like exercising in the last 30 days and consuming 2+ fruits per day and totaled them up to create an overall fit score for each city. So, in the story of the most health-conscious cities, we’ll cover the top 10 overall fittest, regional fitness, along with the top in each fitness category.
Of the 100 most fit cities on the map, 10 are closest to a perfect score of 100 overall when it comes to being fit among a variety of categories. Interestingly enough, two of the 10 are located in the same Midwestern state, though neither ranks #1. Let’s cycle through these top ten.
- Arlington, VA – 86.1
- Minneapolis, MN – 80.6
- Seattle, WA – 77.6
- Denver, CO – 75.8
- Madison, WI – 75
- Washington D.C. – 73.8
- St. Paul, MN – 70.4
- Irvine, CA, – 70.3
- Portland, OR – 69.2
- Atlanta, GA – 69
It’s official: Arlington, Virginia is the fittest city in America. They can’t all be in the FBI, with its stringent physical requirements. With an overall score that’s 5.5 points higher than even the second-fittest, the 236,842 residents of Arlington certainly are healthy. Special acknowledgment to the specific categories the city excels at, including high scores in % exercising in the last 30 days, making it one of the most active cities in the U.S.—government work must require stress relief. Arlington’s population has a high % in excellent or very good health and the lowest scores in:
- % smoking
- % physical health not good during the past 30 days
- % with high blood pressure
- % with angina or coronary heart disease
- % with diabetes
- % with food insecurity
All that said, let’s move on to the rest of the top 10.
Both Minneapolis and nearby St. Paul, Minnesota, score high among the most health-conscious cities, along with the Pacific Northwest’s neighboring cities of Seattle and Portland.
Not one of these four cities tops the charts for an individual health behavior, though Minneapolis outranks all other cities in Bike Score (not included on this map, but noted in The 484 Best & Worst Cities for Cycling). St. Paul also has the most baseball diamonds per 10,000 residents. Go Twins?
Additionally, Oakland, California narrowly missed the cutoff at #11 with an overall score of 67.4. However, Irvine did make the list and the city also tops the charts in aerobic and strength activity guidelines, as well as pedestrian fatality rate.
With an idea of the top overall healthiest cities in America, let’s show other cities some attention.
Obviously, not every city can make it to the top 10 overall fittest. But of the rest of the 90 healthiest cities in America, several surpassed all the others in select categories. Their exemplary efforts deserve to be noted—at least for the nine health behavior subcategories that are included on the map.
|Health Behavior||Top Scoring City||Score|
|% exercising in the last 30 days||Arlington, VA||85.7|
|% meeting aerobic activity guidelines||St. Petersburg, FL||65.4|
|% meeting aerobic & strength activity guidelines||Anaheim, Irvine, & Santa Ana, CA||31|
|% bicycling or walking to work||Boston, MA||19.3|
|% using public transportation to work||New York, NY||55.6|
|% consuming 2+ fruits/ day||Newark, NJ||41.7|
|% consuming 3+ vegetables/ day||San Antonio, TX||20.9|
|% sleeping 7+ hours/ day||Lubbock, TX||77.8|
|% smoking||Arlington, VA||3.5|
While we previously noted Arlington’s achievements in health, St. Petersburg, Florida, is a new city to highlight, as you can see on the table above. Also worth mentioning: St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota follow St. Petersburg with a high percentage of their populations meeting aerobic activity guidelines, with scores of 59 and 58.9, respectively.
And then there are the three Golden State cities that are the best in the country at meeting aerobic & strength activity guidelines: Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, along with two Texan places outranking all others in two different categories: San Antonio via vegetable consumption and Lubbock with sleep.
Meanwhile, Boston is home to the highest percentage of people biking or walking to work—it must be one of the Most Walkable Cities in the US, Canada, and Australia.
On the other hand, the Big Apple has the most residents taking public transportation to work. Read more about the 370 Cities & Their Commute Times and Transportation Rates here.