Top 5 U.S. Cities for Active, Healthy Lifestyles


If you’re looking to take your healthy lifestyle to a new city, maybe try Boston or San Francisco. The two cities lead the nation in active living, according to a report from the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Series.

The series examines the active living environment within 48 medium- to large-size metro communities across the country and the associated relationship with various aspects of residents’ well-being, according to Gallup-Healthways.

Copyright: kuznetsovkonsta / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: kuznetsovkonsta / 123RF Stock Photo

Factors that contributed to the rankings included lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression. They also had significantly higher rates of exercise, healthy eating, fresh produce consumption, and residents thriving in physical well-being as compared to residents in communities with low-active living infrastructure, according to the company’s report summary.

A city’s walk-friendly and bike-friendly areas were two of the factors examined in the report. The quality of a city’s public transit and parks systems was also evaluated.

“We use well being, which really means a life well-lived. We felt that wellness was really too focused on and had a physical feel to it. It’s not that having a life well-lived isn’t just about being happy, it’s not about being successful, and it really isn’t limited to physical health. These are outcomes of high well-being,” said Doug Stover, a senior managing consultant with Gallup, in a podcast interview. “That’s really where we landed on this is the term that defines those five elements that really engender what is a life well-lived.

Related: Money May Not Buy Happiness, But Study Says It Might Buy Less Stress

Gallup-Healthways uses the definition of well-being to collect self-reported data and it focuses on the five well-being elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical.

“It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations,” the polling service’s website said.

Gallup-Healthways used a new measurement, the Active Living Score, to evaluate each state. Boston and San Francisco scored as the two highest active living communities in the country. Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. complete the top five cities. Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Indiana and Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma were ranked among the lowest scored cities.

Related: Fewer American Teens Are Drinking, Smoking or Doing Drugs

Other studies conducted under the Well-Being Index included how unemployment negatively affected youth’s health in wealthy economies, the U.S. uninsured rate, and how millennials are improving key areas of health.

In 2015, Gallup-Healthways reported positive trends across the country, such as a decline in smoking rates and an increase in reported exercise. Obesity reached a new high as well in 2015.

Hawaii was in its second year as the top state for well-being in 2015, with Alaska coming in second. Kentucky and West Virginia ranked 49th and 50th respectively, for the seventh year.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was implemented in 2008 and was designed to be “the Dow Jones of health.” The index is responsible for giving a daily measure of people’s well being and to determine the correlation between the workplace, community and how it affects a person’s overall health, according to Gallup-Healthways.

Tori Linville
Tori Linville is a freelance writer and editor from Clarksville, Tennessee. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s faithfully watching her alma mater, the University of Alabama, dominate the football field.