The Best Cities for Fans of Exercise

Is it possible to change your outlook toward exercise just by changing your address? According to Jeffrey Hallam, Ph.D., the founding director of the University of Mississippi Center for Health Behavior Research, it just might. Speaking in terms of the most and least active cities in America, he remarked upon how biking and walking are expected activities in cities like Portland, Oregon but not so much in Jackson, Mississippi. These attitudes lead to an expectation of ourselves and others when it comes to healthy living. Apparently where you hang your hat at night is a good indicator of how much exercise you get during the day. 

Hallam’s idea that the attitudes of those who live in your community shape your own views were the fuel that Men’s Health needed to perform their own survey in which they ranked 100 American cities based on their activity levels. Here’s what they found.

Top 10 most active cities in America                    

Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Minneapolis, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; Madison, Wisconsin; Oakland, California; Aurora, Colorado.


If you’re wondering whether or not Dallas made the cut, the good news is yes. The bad news is that it’s number 79, directly after Louisville, Kentucky and right before Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While it’s great that we made the top 100 list, it’s kind of sad to see that Texas isn’t represented anywhere on the Top 10 list.

Of course, most active doesn’t equal healthiest. While exercising is an important part of being healthy, other factors like diet and environment have a lot to do with a city’s overall level of health. Case in point is that the ten healthiest cities in America aren’t in the same order as the most active. In fact, some of the most active cities didn’t make the Forbes top 10 list of healthiest cities at all. 

Top 10 Healthiest Cities in America:

  1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Boston, Massachusetts
  4. Portland, Oregon
  5. Denver, Colorado
  6. San Francisco, California
  7. Hartford, Connecticut
  8. Seattle, Washington
  9. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  10. Sacramento, California

If there’s anything to be taken away from this study, it’s that the people you surround yourself with have an impact on how you treat your health. Habits, both good and bad, can be shared among friends, families and communities. It’s up to all of us to be that change that our neighbors need to make their own.


Story creditVideo credit,  21 Jogging in old sacramento by hobbitcamera. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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