The Fittest Cities in America Aren't Ones You'd Expect

© Holly Mandarich / Unsplash
© Holly Mandarich / Unsplash
Photo of Esme Benjamin
Wellness Editor21 September 2017

In Los Angeles and New York—America’s most wellness-fixated cities—buzzy studios and athleisure stores abound, so it’s interesting that both are conspicuously absent from Gallup’s latest report on the country’s fittest cities.

Boulder, Colorado—where 70 percent of residents regularly engage in physical exercise—came out on top, followed by Fort Collins, Colorado (68 percent); the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande area of California (67 percent); Greeley, Colorado (65 percent); and Santa Rosa, California (62 percent).

One thing these cities have going for them, as opposed to metropolitan New York and traffic-jammed LA, is a walking-friendly structure and proximity to nature that facilitates everyday activity without the need for scheduled gym time. In Boulder, for example, hiking and trail running in the mountains is a legit weekend activity, and the city center is generally pedestrian friendly, encouraging residents to meet the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Of course more activity leads to notably better health, and according to Gallup “the highest 10 exercise communities have significantly lower incidence of chronic disease, with approximately 30% less obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack, as compared with the lowest 10 communities.”

Although Cali and Colorado both get gold stars for being impressively active states, the rest of the country also deserves recognition. Americans in general are making a concerted effort to workout. Only 27 percent report doing no exercise whatsoever—a reduction of 3 percent—and the number of people exercising three or more days per week for at least 30 minutes has reached an impressive 53.4 percent—the highest since Gallup began its well-being index.

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