Report the awards of the best, worst cities for an active lifestyle

With “exercise more” and “lose weight” among the top New Year’s resolutions, personal finance website WalletHub recently released its 2023 Best and Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle report, along with expert commentary.

To determine where Americans are most likely to stay active, WalletHub compared America’s 100 largest cities across 36 key metrics. The dataset ranges from the average monthly fitness fee to cycling scores to the proportion of physically inactive adults.

The best cities for an active lifestyle

Honolulu, Hawaii ranked as the overall best city for leading an active lifestyle, followed by San Francisco, California in second place. Third was New York, NY; followed by Chicago, IL; Las Vegas, NV; Cincinnati, OH; San Diego, CA; Madison, WI; Denver, CO and 10th ranked Atlanta, Georgia.

The worst cities for an active lifestyle

Santa Ana, California was ranked #91, kicking off the 10 worst cities for an active lifestyle. Memphis, TN, was number 92, followed by Fresno, CA; Newark, NJ; Wichita, KS; Irving, TX; Winston-Salem, NC; Fort Wayne, IN; Garland, TX and at 100 North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Best vs. worst

Orlando, Florida has the most sporting goods stores (per square root of population), 0.386655, which is 11.9 times more than North Las Vegas, Nevada, the city with the fewest at 0.032468.

Gilbert, Arizona has the most public golf courses (per square root of population), 0.076537, which is 38.9 times more than Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.001969.

Lincoln, Nebraska has the most fitness trainers and aerobics instructors per 100,000 residents, 180, 5.8 times more than Bakersfield, California, the city with the fewest at 31.

New York has the most playgrounds (per square root of population), 0.671157, which is 13.5 times more than Gilbert, Arizona, the city with the fewest at 0.049749.

To view the full report, visit:

Expert commentary

How can local communities support and facilitate an active lifestyle among residents?

“Building sidewalks or bike paths when possible would be great. Posting signs to raise awareness about sharing the road is also important for safety. In parks, trails or equipment would provide an opportunity to engage.”

Steven K. Malin, Ph.D., FACSM – Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

How can we increase access and use of gyms and recreation facilities? Would incentives — like tax deductions for gym memberships — or penalties — like higher health insurance premiums — be more effective?

“One strategy is to create shared use agreements that allow public access to existing recreational facilities or spaces when they are not in use. And positive motivation rather than punitive is usually more effective at encouraging healthy behavior, so incentives rather than punishments would be the way to go. Ultimately, for someone to engage in and maintain a physically active lifestyle, it needs to be easily accessible and enjoyable.”

Connie Tompkins, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, University of Vermont

What tips do you have for someone who wants to maintain an active lifestyle on a budget?

“Just keep moving. Being active doesn’t mean you have to have expensive gadgets or equipment. A decent pair of running/cross trainers can go a long way towards building up steps throughout the day – a good target is 7500/day. A practical way to get these steps would be light to brisk walks for just 10 to 15 minutes after each main meal (eg breakfast, lunch or dinner). Another idea would be to make “workout snacks” a part of your day. As many of us age, we sit for most of the workday due to our work. But if people could get up and walk for one to five minutes an hour, that would help too. In line with low-budget activity, bodyweight exercise, including squats, jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, or planks for one to five minutes per hour, could significantly lower blood glucose and blood pressure. and lipid levels for even better cognition throughout the day, not to mention mental well-being. Another idea might be to purchase resistance bands to help mix up the type of weight lifting one does. They are portable and easy to take to work or hotels on the go. Additionally, the skipping rope is a great buy at a low price that provides a tremendous cardiovascular workout. If you’re inclined, you can buy a stability ball and use it as a chair. It would help build strength in the core muscles and help lower back pain.”

Steven K. Malin, Ph.D., FACSM – Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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