2009 Fittest Cities: #1 Salt Lake City, UT

An impressive debut for this newcomer to MF's annual list

What's Good
According to the CDC, 22 percent of residents in the Salt Lake City area are clinically obese. The national average is 25.19 percent.

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According to Nielsen Media Research, TV viewers in the Salt Lake City television market spend 23 percent less time in front of the tube than average among cities in our survey.

The CDC says 54 percent of adults here get either 30 minutes of moderate exercise five or more days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three or more times per week. In the average city in our survey, 49.6 percent of adults exercise at these levels.

According to the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Survey, 65.6 percent of adults here are lean enough to lower their risk for weight-related health problems. That's the 10th best score of any city in our survey. Compare it to a national average of 63.91 percent.

Salt Lake City's park acreage per capita is 115 percent higher than average and the 4th highest in our survey. Research has found a connection between access to parks and green space and reduced obesity rates.

Salt Lake City residents participate in sports much more than average - 102 percent more than average, in fact.

Health-food stores are plentiful in Salt Lake City: There's one for every 2,867 residents, handily beating the national average of one store per 12,118.

Utah is one of 28 states that participate in a CDC-sponsored program to reduce obesity and other chronic diseases.

Salt Lake City gained points in our Motivation category for high participation rates in running, biking and walking despite climate extremes.

Salt Lake City residents are more likely than average to actually use their gym or health-club memberships, according to our comparison of membership trends and club use, including machine use, exercising with weights, cardio classes, yoga and martial arts, among others.

Golfers can choose from 6 city-owned courses. Relative to population, that's more than almost anywhere else we surveyed.

There are 75 percent more tennis courts per capita here than average among cities in our survey.

Basketball courts are practically everywhere here, among the highest number per capita in our survey. There's a court here for every 1,902 residents; the national average is one court per 6,909 people.

Our survey has found 176 percent more sporting-goods stores in Salt Lake City than average, an indicator of an active populace.

On a per capita basis, Salt Lake City has 101 percent more gyms and health clubs than average, the 3rd highest in our survey.

11 percent of Salt Lake City residents practice martial arts, the highest participation rate in our survey.

A whopping 32.8 percent of Salt Lake City residents run or jog - highest in our survey.

Abdominal machine use is very popular in Salt Lake City. Locals are 110 percent more likely than average to use an abdominal machine - the highest rate of any city in our survey.

Approximately 12 percent of Salt Lake City residents do Pilates. That's the highest rate in our survey.

Approximately 29 percent of Salt Lake City residents exercise with dumbbells. That's 123 percent more than average and the highest rate in our survey.

Even the kids in Salt Lake City are a blur, with more of them riding scooters than any other city in our survey.

People in Salt Lake City are 788 percent more likely than average to play lacrosse.

Residents of Salt Lake City are 251 percent more likely than average to play beach volleyball - the highest participation rate in our survey.

Residents of Salt Lake City are 363 percent more likely than average to play racquetball, the highest rate in our survey.

Salt Lake City city residents are into aerobics - they're 265 percent more likely than average to participate, the highest rate of any city in our survey.

Salt Lake City dwellers are 55 percent more likely than average to use treadmills - the highest in our survey.

Salt Lake City has the highest participation rate in our survey for aerobic dancing.

Salt Lake City residents are 110 percent more likely than average to play recreational basketball, the highest participation rate of any city in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 112 percent more likely than average to go day hiking. That's the highest participation rate in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 154 percent more likely than average to perform calisthenics - the highest rate of any city in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 207 percent more likely than average to play table tennis - the highest rate in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 24 percent more likely than average to go for a walk, the highest rate of any city in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 51 percent more likely than average to participate in recreational swimming - the highest in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are 87 percent more likely than average to participate in yoga/tai chi. Compared to other cities, Salt Lake City is the most popular place in our survey for these activities.

Salt Lake City residents are fanatics about fitness swimming - they do it about 125 percent more than average, the highest overall participation rate among cities in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are into fitness bicycling - they do it about 261 percent more than average, the highest overall rate among cities in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents are seriously into cardio kickboxing, with a participation rate that's 393 percent above average for cities in our survey. Overall, the city ranks 1st in this category.

Salt Lake City residents walk for fitness 109 percent more than residents of the average city in our survey, the highest overall participation rate among cities in our survey.

Step aerobics are popular in Salt Lake City. Locals are 126 percent more likely than average to participate - the highest rate of any city in our survey.

Approximately 18 percent of Salt Lake City residents ride stationary cycles for exercise. That's 36 percent more than average and the 2nd highest rate in our survey.

Salt Lake City residents skateboard a lot more than average - 64 percent more than average, in fact. That's the 3rd highest percentage in our survey.

You'll find a higher percentage of mountain bikers in Salt Lake City than almost anywhere else in our survey - 4.6 percent of residents. The national average is 2.5 percent.

What Isn't
Salt Lake City has 57 percent more pizza places per capita than the average among cities in our survey.

Fast food, widely implicated as a contributor to obesity, is more common in Salt Lake City than most places in our survey. In a per capita comparison there are 82 percent more fast-food joints here than average.

Utah state law limits or prohibits obesity-related lawsuits against food manufacturers and restaurants.

There are 22 percent more ice cream shops here than average, per capita.

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