Nutritious eateries, plenty of green space, active residents. They're all features the best health-minded cities around. Did your hometown make the cut?
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Three things brought Minneapolis to the top of our list this year: For one, residents here are now more active than any other place in the country, with nearly 86 percent reporting they’ve done some form of exercise in the past month and 55 percent saying they're moderately active for at least half an hour every day. Twin City residents also can lay claim to having the lowest percentage of deaths from heart disease and the lowest rates of asthma.
Fit Stop: Tao Foods
For more than 40 years, Tao Foods (taonaturalfoods.com) has been selling everything from antioxidants to essential oils, but it's far more than just a health-food store: While you're there, grab an organic smoothie in the café or relieve aches and pains with massage or acupuncture.
#2: Washington, D.C.
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Although it dropped from its top spot of the past two years, the nation’s capital still flexes plenty of muscle. D.C. spends more per resident to take care of its parks than any other city, and its population comes in number two in rating themselves as being in excellent health.
Fit Stop: Pacers Running Stores
Whether you're a running newbie or a marathon vet, you'll find everything you need for training and motivation at Pacers Running Stores (runpacers.com). Get fitted for shoes and gear, sign up for a weekend 5K, or hook up with a pace group at this family-owned specialty running chain.
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With the city’s 17 miles of bike paths along the Charles River and 35 miles of dedicated bike lanes (up from zero in 2007), more and more Bostonians are taking to two wheels. Some of the country’s top hospitals and research facilities are located here too, so it’s no surprise that Beantown has the highest percentage of residents who have health care coverage.
Fit Stop: Boston Globe
Bostonians have big hearts (and it’s not just from all that training for the city’s world-famous
marathon), and the Boston Globe’s events listing, (calendar.boston.com),is the place to track down local and regional charity races. You’d be hard-pressed to find a weekend where there’s not an active event to raise funds for everything from cancer research to the city’s many Boys & Girls Clubs.
#4: Portland, Oregon
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Portland has experienced double-digit population growth for the past few decades, in no small part because of its bucolic surroundings and laid-back attitude. A high ratio of parks to residents, as well as easy access to both mountains and coast, make the area a hub for outdoor fun, from windsurfing to snowboarding (even in the summer!).
Fit Stop: Cyclocross
A growing number of local women are trying cyclocross—a mix of cycling, running, and a whole lot of mud. Hotspots to practice your skills are Pier Park in North Portland and Mount Tabor on the Southeast Side. Most races feature a hilly course that includes obstacles like stairs and puddles. (For local events, visit crosscrusade.com).
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With the Rocky Mountains as a dramatic backdrop, there’s no shortage of motivation to get out and get moving. That’s something locals do on a regular basis: The Mile High City boasts the highest percentage of residents who are active for at least 30 minutes a day. And there’s a large community of running, cycling, and triathlon clubs welcoming all skill levels. They’re BYOB (bring your own bike!).
Fit Stop: Root Down
With its “field to fork” mentality and globally inspired cuisine, Root Down (rootdowndenver.com) attracts both vegetarians and carnivores. Try the carrot-curry soup or crab enchiladas.
#6: San Francisco
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Tough smoking bans mean the Bay Area has the lowest puffing rates in the country (half the U.S. average), and its fit-centric population also gives it the lowest rate of obesity. Frisco locals are the most likely to use mass transit to get to work, so they’re less apt to be stuck in traffic and have more time to spend working out!
Fit Stop: Imperial Spa
Reward yourself post–sweat session at the aah-inducing Korean-style Imperial Spa (imperialdayspa.com), where you can soak in the hot tub, relax in a red clay sauna, then get an invigorating exfoliation (so long, dead skin!) and rubdown combo.
#7: Hartford, Connecticut
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The state capital and its surrounding counties offer both top-notch medical centers and tons of hiking and biking trails. The region has the highest number of farmers' markets per capita and one of the lowest obesity rates in the country, plus its residents rank second on the list when it comes to being active on a regular basis.
Fit Stop: Farmington Valley Fitness Bootcamp
Locals looking to drop a few pounds or just stay in peak shape praise the Farmington Valley Fitness Bootcamp (farmingtonvalleyfitnessbootcamps.com). Tyler English, the owner and director of fitness and performance, takes members through circuits using the TRX, kettlebells, resistance
bands, and body weight in a no-frills warehouse setting.
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Seattle residents aren’t the type to let a little rain or some clouds dampen their workouts: You’ll find them kayaking in a downpour and hiking in snow. (And they have all that great, antioxidant-rich coffee to warm them up!) Plus, the city has oodles of parks and a high percentage of residents who frequently leave the car at home and walk or bike to work.
Fit Stop: REI Flagship Store
Outdoor giant REI (rei.com) got its start in Seattle back in the 1930s selling mountaineering gear, and today it’s the nation’s largest consumer co-op. Visit the flagship store downtown to scale the 65-foot climbing wall, tune your bike, plan an active family getaway, or find essentials for all of your (wet or dry) outdoor adventures.
#9: Virginia Beach, Virginia
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The region is tops in fruit and vegetable consumption—about 20 percent higher than the rest of the U.S.—and locals are devoted to regular workouts. It also has a high percentage of city land devoted to parks, with 249 green spaces, including 14 miles of free beaches and more than 18,000 acres of state parks.
Fit Stop: Tula Sports
Stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) has exploded in popularity in the past couple of years. Try the SUPerFIT class from Tula Sports (tulasports.com), which includes paddling time as well as sculpting moves like planks and squats—all on a paddleboard.
#10: Sacramento, California
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Fitness and California go hand in hand, so it's only natural that the capital of the Golden State earned a spot on the top 10 list. Residents get high marks for commuting to work by bike (curbs are rounded so cyclists can easily go from sidewalk to street, and there’s a growing number of bike lanes set aside for safety). Locals also love their fruits and veggies and have a low rate of smoking.
Fit Stop: Sugar Plum Bakery
You’d never guess the gooey cookies, whoopie pies, cupcakes, and other goodies sold at the Sugar Plum bakery (sugarplumvegan.com) were made without milk, butter, or eggs. In fact, the entire sweets menu, along with more traditional entrées like French toast and frittatas, is completely vegan.