January 23, 2019

View as List The Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

  • The Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

    It sometimes seems that in matters of health, as in real estate, the key mantra is "location, location, location." After all, every year countless media outlets publish lists of the healthiest cities in the country, and every year many of the same cities show up. You can live a healthy (or unhealthy) lifestyle anywhere, of course; but certain places seem to provide that special blend of factors—from abundant green space to excellent health care to a local culture that embraces fresh, healthful eating—that correlate with extra-healthy residents. Here, we laud eight cities perennially cited as among America's healthiest, for good reason.

  • 1


    swan boats in Boston image

    Boston frequently appears at or near the top of lists of the country's healthiest cities not only because its residents are active—almost four out of five regularly engage in some sort of physical activity—but because an impressive 94 percent of Greater Boston residents have health insurance, the highest rate anywhere in the nation. And when those residents need a doctor, they have plenty to choose from: Boston has the highest per capita rate of doctors in the country, with 514 physicians and surgeons for every 100,000 residents.

  • 2

    Boulder, Colorado

    Boulder image

    Boulder's low obesity rate alone (12.4 percent in 2014, vs. 35 percent for the nation overall) lands it high on any list of healthy cities. Combine that with an outdoor-friendly mountain climate—the hot, dry summers and relatively mild winters allow for excellent biking, hiking, running, and skiing—and a creative, health-conscious restaurant scene, and you've got a recipe for a fit way of life.

  • 3


    Honolulu image

    Like their Boston counterparts 5,000 miles to the east, people lucky enough to live in Honolulu can point to one major reason why the city so often scores high on the list of the nation's healthiest: Hawaii has had near-universal health care for four decades. A climate and physical surroundings that encourage outdoor activity certainly help—as does a diet generally rich in seafood.

  • 4


    Minneapolis image

    The greener the city, the healthier its residents, the adage goes. Nowhere is this truer than in Minneapolis. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land has cited Minneapolis's park system, which covers roughly a fifth of the city and provides ready access to hiking, biking, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and other outdoor activities, as the best in the U.S. More than 87 percent of locals report participating in physical activities on a regular basis, while a higher-than-average per capita rate of doctors and mental-health providers—plus an insured rate of around 90 percent—ensures that most residents have ready access to checkups and screenings.

  • 5

    Portland, Oregon

    Portland image

    While several cities in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, Coeur d'Alene, and others) might just as easily be on this list, Portland features more than 225 parks and over 140 miles of hiking trails. It was named America's "greenest city" out of 43 cities ranked in 2010 by the American City Business Journals. Portland was also second overall in Cooking Light's list of the 20 cities that best fit its philosophy to "eat smart, be fit, and live well." (Seattle ranked first.)

  • 6

    Provo-Orem, Utah

    Utah image

    According to CDC statistics, more than 95 percent of adults in the Provo-Orem area are non-smokers, a higher percentage than in any other American city. That, combined with one of the lowest rates per capita of fast food restaurants in the country, a lower-than-average rate of alcohol consumption, and an exercise-friendly culture, likely helped Provo-Orem to score first among 189 communities in the U.S. on a 2014 Well-Being Index compiled by Gallup.

  • 7

    San Francisco

    golden gate bridge image

    Not only are San Francisco residents more likely to walk or bike to work than people in other U.S. cities, but the huge amount of open space in and around the city—including the 120 square miles comprising the Golden Gate National Recreation Area—provides endless opportunities for recreational biking, hiking, and running. Fewer than 10 percent of San Franciscans smoke cigarettes, the very word "locavore" was coined in the region, and the metropolitan area (which also includes neighboring Oakland, Berkeley, and Fremont) has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country.

  • 8

    Washington, D.C.

    Washington Monument image

    That the nation's capital routinely shows up on lists of healthy cities might seem surprising—until you consider that there's more green space in D.C. (think the National Mall) than in many other cities its size. Washington took the top spot in the 2014 American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index, which compares the relative fitness and health of the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Among the areas in which D.C. bested its fellow cities: fewer deaths from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, more residents using public transportation, and a higher per-capita rate of both primary care providers and farmers markets.