These cities have the most sports medicine doctors and number of races, keeping runners happier and healthier than they are anywhere else
Running is arguably the most popular form of exercise in America. It requires no memberships, specialized equipment, or advanced technical knowledge (unless, obviously, you desire to learn it)—which might explain why 18.75 million people completed a race in 2014, according to data from Running USA. In fact, running was the fitness frontrunner in nearly every state in the U.S., based on MapMyFitness data compiled by the Wall Street Journal.
But running can be a pretty risky sport when it comes to the health of your joints and muscles. The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation estimates 70 percent of runners will suffer a running related injury, which means living in a city with access to sports medicine professionals is crucial to being a healthy runner. (Psst… Did you know Cutting Yourself Some Slack Can Lower Your Risk of Running Injuries?) And if these cities also coincided with great running opportunities, well, these would arguably be the cities where runners are happiest and healthiest, right?
That's just what Vitals Index, a resource for finding health care professionals, has figured out. They ranked cities based on quality and access to sports medicine specialists (think: sports physicians, physical therapists, and orthopedic surgeons), the number of marathons and halfs, and the number of runs each person participates in.
So who made the list? The top 10 healthiest cities for runner are:
2. San Diego
3. Las Vegas
5. San Francisco
It’s no shocker that seven of the top ten cities are in warm climates. As everyone north of the Mason Dixon line knows, it’s much easier to lace up your shoes when it’s 60 degrees out than when it’s 20. Stealing the top spot, Orlando has an impressive ratio of one sports medicine specialist for every 2,590 residents, and it's home to the Walt Disney Marathon—the largest marathon in the United States. Last year, the event drew 65,523 racing princesses and princes. (Find out Why runDisney Races Are Such a Big Deal.)
And on the other coast, Seattle is home to companies like Adidas and Brooks Running, so active individuals are as much a defining part of the city’s culture as coffee. (It’s also one of the Top 10 Cities for Eco-Friendly Coffee Lovers.)
Most surprising about this ranking was the three running havens not on the list—Chicago, Boston, and New York, which didn’t even make the top 10. But while these cities host prestigious races, they host fewer races per year and have a smaller ratio of medical specialists to runners. Why are those sports docs so important? The more specialists a city has, the safer and thereby more equipped it will be to host numerous and large-scale marathons.
And visiting a specialist isn't reserved for elite athletes either. These professionals provide advice for stretching and recovery in order to improve even amateur athletic performance, help runners recover from injury, or prevent future injury (like these 5 Beginner Running Injuries). Visiting a sports medical professional in your area could make you faster, stronger, and a better athlete—and what runner wouldn't want that?