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 index.

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

The index 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.

Ranking Factors

Factors that contributed to the rankings included:

  • Lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression
  • Higher rates of exercise, healthy eating (including fresh produce)
  • Residents thriving in physical well-being compared to residents in communities with low-active living infrastructure
  • A city’s walk-friendly and bike-friendly areas
  • The quality of a city’s public transit and parks system
Credit: Friends of Family Farmers/Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

“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. 

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.

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

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

Best and Worst Cities for Active Living

Gallup-Healthways used a new measurement, the Active Living Score, to evaluate each state. The best active living communities in the country include:

  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Washington, D.C.
Boston lead U.S. cities in providing the best for active, healthy lifestyles. Credit: Jeff Gunn/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Indiana and Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma were ranked among the lowest scored cities.

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. However, obesity reached a new high 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.

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