Carefree and free woman

8 Things You’ll Find in Cities That Support Active Lifestyles

If you’re looking for a more challenging workout regimen than simply hoisting boxes into a truck on moving day, you’ll want to scope out a city’s affinity for fitness before you relocate.

Cities that cater to physically active residents make a point of building a community where people can stay fit. Below are 8 active lifestyle amenities you’ll find in cities that support staying fit:

woman working out

1. Choice of fitness centers.

Whether you’re looking for a spa-like gym or a chain, generally the bigger the city, the more fitness centers offered. San Francisco has 12 fitness centers for every 100,000 people, according to a ranking of the most physically active American cities published by 24/7 Wall St

Yet smaller cities can also rise to the demand. Boulder, CO, which has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country, has 20 fitness centers per 100,000 residents, according to the same report. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC (pop. 542,710) has 14 fitness centers per 100,000 residents.

stunning yoga pose

2. Yoga studios.  

Approximately 37 million people in the U.S. currently practice yoga, and 34 percent of Americans say they’re likely to practice yoga within the next 12 months, according to the 2016 Yoga in America Study  conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance.

Yoga Journal’s recent Top 10 Yoga-friendly Towns list included New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But Austin, TX, also made the cut at number five, with yoga-themed dating events, yoga flash mobs and “bend and brew” bar nights that pair yoga and craft beers.

Also in the top 10: Chicago, which hosts free outdoor classes at Millennium Park and Portland, OR, home to The People’s Yoga, which offers low-cost or free classes to those who can’t afford pricey studios and Street Yoga, a non-profit that partners with local agencies to teach yoga classes for at-risk youth.

young couple riding the bus

3. Abundant public transportation and walkable urban design.

New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Boston ranked at the top of Walk Score’s 2016 top ten most walkable U.S. cities due in part to extensive subway and train systems, bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly walk paths and a plethora of major attractions to which people can walk. Denver ranked number 20 in the top 50 due to its light rail system and an urban landscape that lends itself to biking.

Sporty happy woman running with dog outdoor

4. Dog parks.

A recent study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, cited “more dog parks per capita” as one criterion used to rank the overall health and fitness level of residents.

Off-leash dog parks are growing faster than any other type of park in America’s largest cities, according to the Trust for Public Land’s 2016 City Park Facts report. Cities that scored highest for number of dog parks on a per-resident basis: Henderson, NV, Portland, OR, Norfolk, VA, Las Vegas and Madison, WI. However, you’ll find the best-funded dog parks in Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, according to the report.

couple at the park

5. Accessible parks.

A city’s park system is more than just green space. Parks could include tennis courts, swimming pools, playgrounds, off-road bike paths, dog parks, walking paths and hiking trails. Minneapolis, where 94 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, nabbed first place in the Trust for Public Land’s 2014 ParkScore Index report, which scored major U.S. city park systems on acreage, facilities and investment and access.


6. Bike-friendly.

Minneapolis nudged out San Francisco and Portland, OR, to grab first place in a 2015 list of the most bike-friendly U.S. cities compiled by Redfin.

Minneapolis has more than 213 miles of protected bikeways, lanes, shared lanes and bike boulevards and offers a “bike sharing” system where people can rent bicycles from kiosks by the hour. Chicago is also becoming more bike-friendly with its Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, which includes a 645-mile network of on-street bikeways.

7. Walking and running groups.

In most major cities, you’ll find organized running and walking groups that meet at least once a week. You can easily find a group with an online search and by checking out groups on and running/walking groups nationwide at Running in the USA.

Couple jogging together

8. 5Ks and charity runs/walks.

Cities with an active demographic have plenty of 5K and 10K events benefiting charities while bringing large groups of people together for a workout.  Check out this list of upcoming 5Ks to get an idea of how many 5k events you’ll find in a city.

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