Whether you run, lift weights or do yoga to get in shape, working out has major anti-aging benefits. “Exercise directly reduces the risk of heart disease, probably the risk of cancer and certainly the risk of diabetes and other health problems,” says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge® Test. In fact, exercising regularly can make your RealAge up to 2.3 years younger if you’re a man and 2.8 years younger if you’re a woman. “People who have the most to gain are those doing the least amount of exercise,” says Dr. Roach. Did your city make our best cities for fitness list? Find out.
The City by the Bay is a mecca for exercise. San Francisco offers kayaking and windsurfing for water lovers, plenty of places for running or skating throughout Golden Gate Park and more than 200 miles of bike paths and lanes for those who prefer exercise to driving or riding the trolley. San Francisco is also home to the Bay to Breakers footrace, the San Francisco Marathon, the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon and the Olympic Club, the oldest athletic club in the U.S.
San Diego’s ideal climate, 70 miles of coastline and diverse terrain encourages year-round fitness opportunities. It’s the perfect place for outdoor recreation, from surfing and paddle boarding to hiking and biking. All that exercise may help San Diegans fend off diabetes. “When you exercise you’re burning up sugar and calories with muscles,” says Roach. “This makes it less likely you’ll develop diabetes down the road, even if you’re genetically predisposed to it.”
Boston, which has more pedestrian commuters than most comparably populated cities, is known as The Walking City. The capital of Massachusetts also has some of the highest rates of bicycle commuting, in part because of the Boston Hubway, a bike-sharing program throughout Metro Boston. When Bostonians aren’t rooting for their favorite sports teams, they’re likely walking the Freedom Trail or jogging around the Charles River.
Nicknamed the River City, because it’s where the Sacramento River and the American River meet, Sacramento attracts a ton of white water rafters and kayakers. For land-lovers, California’s state capital features over 5,000 acres of parks, giving residents plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports, hiking, walking and biking.
With highs around the 80s and lows in the upper 30s, Portland’s temperate climate makes it easy to stay active. Residents can hike Forest Park’s 70 miles of trails, bike or jog the Springwater Corridor or even skateboard around one of the city’s many designated skate routes. Portland also has one of the most active bicycle racing scenes in the U.S. All that outdoor recreation could also be why Portland is one of the best cities for nutrition. “People tend to eat healthier when they exercise,” says Roach.
It’s no surprise The Crossroads of the West is the eighth-best city for fitness. Salt Lake City offers year-round outdoor adventure, from snowshoeing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and skiing, to hiking and biking around Bonneville Shoreline Trail. All that fresh air is probably why Salt Lake City also has the lowest smoking rate in the country. “People who start an exercise program are much more likely to quit smoking,” says Roach.
Los Angeles is the fourth California city to make it on our best cities for fitness list. Residents here put a premium on staying in shape. They love the latest workout crazes, including SoulCycle, Pure Barre, HIIT, INSANITY and more. Plus L.A.’s 75 miles of coastline offer plenty of opportunities for beach running, surfing, kayaking and one of the latest trends, stand-up paddleboard yoga.
Austin rounds out our best cities for fitness list. This Texas town is home to Hippie Hollow Park on Lake Travis, a clothing-optional public park where residents can swim, kayak and hike, adding fuel to the unofficial city slogan “Keep Austin Weird.” Austin also has more than 50 public pools as well as plenty of opportunities for rock climbing, swimming and exploring along the greenbelt. This active lifestyle could be why Austinites rank low for stress. “Exercise is a great way for most people to relieve stress by lowering cortisol and baseline epinephrine,” says Roach.
Not exercising can make your RealAge 1.5 years older if you’re a woman and 1.2 years older if you’re a man. These cities fared the worst for fitness.