The 15 Most Physically Active Cities in the U.S.

Woman jogging
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on ChamberOfCommerce.org.

As COVID-19 cases decline again, many public health restrictions are lifted, and more of life returns to normal, one interesting question for the months and years ahead is how the pandemic will permanently affect people’s habits and lifestyles.

One example is fitness and physical activity. With many gyms, pools, and other recreational facilities closed or operating at limited capacity in 2020, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns that lockdowns would decrease levels of physical activity.

One study conducted early in the pandemic found that overall physical activity for adults was significantly lower than prior to the pandemic. Meanwhile, many at-home fitness products and services that boomed during the pandemic now face an uncertain future; while some consumers may be returning to their old gyms, others may simply be losing interest.

The questions of whether and how much people are exercising post-pandemic are important because maintaining adequate levels of physical activity is a key component of individual and public health. Experts have identified a number of benefits associated with a physically active lifestyle, including reduced blood pressure, improved mood and energy levels, and better sleep. Physically active people are at lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that a lack of physical activity contributes to 10% of all premature deaths in the U.S.

To determine the most physically active locations, researchers at ChamberOfCommerce.org calculated the share of adults who self-reported engaging in leisure-time physical activity such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise. The data used in this analysis is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Places: Local Data for Better Health report.

Following are the most physically active U.S. cities.

15. Long Beach, CA

Long Beach California homes
L.A. Nature Graphics / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 75.3%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 27.5%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 27.2%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 10.5%
  • Share of adults with depression: 15.5%

14. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte North Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 76.8%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 29.5%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 29.2%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 10.7%
  • Share of adults with depression: 20.8%

13. Oakland, CA

Oakland, California
yhelfman / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 77.2%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 27.6%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 27.3%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 10.8%
  • Share of adults with depression: 16.3%

12. Virginia Beach, VA

Virginia Beach, Virginia
JoMo333 / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 77.4%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 30.4%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 29.0%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 8.9%
  • Share of adults with depression: 19.4%

11. Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque homes
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 77.4%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 27.8%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 25.5%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 9.4%
  • Share of adults with depression: 19.0%

10. San Jose, CA

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 77.7%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 22.0%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 25.5%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 9.3%
  • Share of adults with depression: 13.6%

9. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 78.1%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 30.5%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 28.9%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 9.6%
  • Share of adults with depression: 20.9%

8. Austin, TX

Austin, Texas waterscape
Silvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 78.5%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 25.2%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 30.5%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 9.5%
  • Share of adults with depression: 19.3%

7. San Diego, CA

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 78.6%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 22.6%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 27.3%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 8.9%
  • Share of adults with depression: 17.8%

6. Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon waterfront
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 79.8%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 25.9%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 25.8%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 7.4%
  • Share of adults with depression: 25.6%

5. Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Springs
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 80.1%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 24.4%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 28.8%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 7.2%
  • Share of adults with depression: 20.1%

4. Denver, CO

Denver, Colorado
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 80.9%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 22.0%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 26.2%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 7.7%
  • Share of adults with depression: 18.4%

3. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, California
IM_photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 80.9%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 16.1%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 26.8%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 9.1%
  • Share of adults with depression: 14.5%

2. Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota
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  • Share of adults who are physically active: 81.1%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 27.5%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 25.7%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 8.8%
  • Share of adults with depression: 22.8%

1. Seattle, WA

Seattle skyline
Checubus / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of adults who are physically active: 84.7%
  • Share of adults who are obese: 22.1%
  • Share of adults with high cholesterol: 27.3%
  • Share of adults with diabetes: 7.4%
  • Share of adults with depression: 23.5%

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
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The data used in this analysis is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Places: Local Data for Better Health data.

To determine the most physically active locations, researchers calculated the share of adults who self-reported engaging in leisure-time physical activity such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise.

In the event of a tie, the location with the lower share of adults who are obese (BMI ≥30.0) was ranked higher. To improve relevance, only cities with at least 100,000 residents were included.

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