Do you live in a “healthy” city? What really makes one city healthier than another? Well, a commitment to creating recreational activities for people of all ages is key, as is an effort to make healthy food options widely available and affordable. With those criteria in mind, but in no particular order, let’s take a look at five U.S. cities that offer good-for-you food and fitness options.
- Denver, Colorado
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Over 80 percent of the Mile High city’s citizens exercise regularly-and there is no shortage of activities for them to choose from. The summers mean hiking through lush trails, kayaking and rafting on the rivers, rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains, and cycling on bike paths through downtown neighborhoods and picturesque valleys. Denver’s major gathering spot is Washington Park, which boasts two lakes, tennis courts, jogging trails, soccer fields and baseball diamonds. Denver also boasts a robust selection of vegetarian restaurants that do brisk business with the area’s health-conscious citizens.
- Burlington, Vermont
Don’t let the fact that this winner is the home of rich and creamy Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fool you: this picturesque city has had a long-standing tradition of healthy living. Nestled between the Adirondack and Green Mountains, Burlington actively supports the produce of local farmers at green markets and eateries. For hikers, there is the Long Trail, and for boaters, canoers, and kayakers, there is Burlington Harbor. The air in Burlington is also some of the cleanest in the country, which no doubt contributes to the exceptional health and well-being of the locals.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
This Midwestern city loves its public parks, and its citizens take full advantage of the miles of biking and jogging trails. And, the locals don’t let the typically frigid winters keep them from moving! They partake in winter sports galore on the weekends, and during the workweek they make their way around downtown through dozens of glass-enclosed pedestrian bridges that protect them from the elements. Minneapolis also boasts five thriving farmers’ markets that specialize in locally-grown organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, and each offers cooking demonstrations that teach potential customers to make the most of fresh, healthy ingredients.
- Tucson, Arizona
A jewel of the Southwest, Tucson has a relatively low percentage of overweight residents. That could be thanks to a good selection of restaurants dedicated to serving light fare that’s big on authentic taste all while being kind to patrons’ waistlines. Or it could be the city’s well-earned reputation as one of the best cities for bikes-it has over 300 miles of bike paths that snake throughout the metropolitan area. Or, it could all of those golf courses, horseback riding enthusiasts, and nature lovers who love to hike through the desert and spend hours bird-watching or looking for rare species of plants.
- New York, New York
The city so nice, they named it twice is also a city full of walkers who rely on their two feet as a preferred mode of transportation. In addition to extensive bike paths that run along the East and Hudson Rivers, there is Central Park, which boasts a picturesque jogging trail around the reservoir, paths for horse riders, soccer, tennis and baseball fields, public pools, and stretches of roads that are closed to traffic for everyone to enjoy. In August, the city shuts down a nearly 6-mile stretch of Park Avenue to encourage even more people to learn to bike ride and partake of free fitness classes along the route. Known for its diverse restaurant scene, the city is home to dozens of vegetarian and raw food eateries and is home to several Farmer’s Markets and community-supported agriculture groups.