2009 Fittest Cities in America

These 25 towns thrive on being active

Your environment has a lot to do with the health habits you develop. Does your city have more Pizza Huts than health clubs? Then maybe it's time for a move.

As we've done for more than a decade, MF collected and analyzed reams of data on the 50 most populated areas in the nation in an effort to determine just which cities take fitness the most seriously. Here are the 25 that landed on this year's list of the Fittest Cities in America.

10.) Virginia Beach, VA

  • Air quality here is among the best of any city in our survey, according to EPA air quality standards.
  • Residents don't have far to go to find a park: Virginia Beach has 253 municipal parks, among the most of any city on a per capita basis, according to our exclusive survey of municipal park departments.
  • Virginia has "snack tax" laws aimed at reducing obesity and improving nutrition.
  • 9.) Omaha, NE

  • Nebraska is one of 28 states that participate in a CDC-sponsored program to reduce obesity and other chronic diseases.
  • Golfers can choose from 9 city-owned courses. Relative to population, that's more than almost anywhere else we surveyed.
  • Omaha residents are 96 percent more likely than average to play recreational baseball. For you stat fans, that's the highest participation rate in our survey.
  • 8.) Seattle, WA

  • The CDC says 53 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.
  • According to Nielsen Media Research, TV viewers in the Seattle television market spend 25 percent less time in front of the tube than average among cities in our survey.
  • Residents don't have far to go to find a park: Seattle has 430 municipal parks, among the most of any city on a per capita basis, according to our exclusive survey of municipal park departments.
  • 7.) Honolulu, HI

  • Health-food stores are plentiful in Honolulu: There's one for every 4,525 residents, handily beating the national average of one store per 12,118 people.
  • Honolulu has 42 percent fewer pizza places per capita than the average among cities in our survey.
  • In a per capita comparison of public pools, Honolulu has one pool for every 17,884 residents — 60 percent more than average in our survey.
  • 6.) Portland, OR

  • You'll find a higher percentage of mountain bikers in Portland than almost anywhere else in our survey — 3.8 percent of residents. The national average is 2.5 percent.
  • Portland residents participate in sports much more than average — 7 percent more than average, in fact.
  • Residents don't have far to go to find a park: Portland has 294 municipal parks, among the most of any city on a per capita basis, according to our exclusive survey of municipal park departments.
  • 5.) Albuquerque, NM

  • Albuquerque residents are fanatics about fitness swimming — they do it about 61 percent more than average, the highest overall participation rate among cities in our survey.
  • Albuquerque residents are 62 percent more likely than average to go hiking. That's the 3rd highest participation rate in our survey.
  • Albuquerque's park acreage per capita is 261 percent higher than average and the 2nd highest in our survey.
  • 4.) Denver, CO

  • 5 percent of Denver residents practice martial arts, the highest participation rate in our survey.
  • Approximately 25 percent of Denver residents have a health club membership. That's 45 percent more than average, and the highest rate in our survey.
  • You'll find a higher percentage of mountain bikers in Denver than almost anywhere else in our survey — 11.5 percent of residents. The national average is 2.5 percent.
  • 3.) Minneapolis, MN

  • Basketball courts are practically everywhere here, among the highest number per capita in our survey. There's a court here for every 2,062 residents; the national average is one court per 6,909 people.
  • On a per capita basis, Minneapolis has 126 percent more gyms and health clubs than average, the 2nd highest in our survey.
  • Minneapolis residents are 82 percent more likely than average to play tennis — the highest rate of any city in our survey.
  • 2.) Colorado Springs, CO

  • The local commute is much easier than in most cities — 45 percent less oppressive than average, leaving more time to exercise and prepare healthy meals.
  • Colorado Springs residents are 100 percent more likely than average to go hiking. That's the highest participation rate in our survey.
  • 18.8 percent of Colorado Springs residents run or jog — 2nd highest in our survey.
  • 1.) Salt Lake City, UT

  • 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.
  • A whopping 32.8 percent of Salt Lake City residents run or jog — highest in our survey.
  • Residents of Salt Lake City are 363 percent more likely than average to play racquetball, the highest rate in our survey.
  • HOW THE REST RANKED:

    11. Milwaukee, WI
    12. San Francisco, CA
    13. Tucson, AZ
    14. Boston, MA
    15. Cleveland, OH
    16. St. Louis, MO
    17. Austin, TX
    18. Washington, DC
    19. Sacramento, CA
    20. Oakland, CA
    21. Atlanta, GA
    22. Fresno, CA
    23. Tampa, FL
    24. Nashville-Davidson, TN
    25. Pittsburgh, PA

    Check out the 2009 Fattest Cities in America

    For a more detailed look at our 11th annual Fittest/Fattest City survey conducted with the help of RFG Research, click here

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