North America’s Healthiest Cities: Where do you rank?


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Healthy cities.

When you are in one, you just know you are. The city is alive, vibrant, active, and clean.

There are healthy restaurant options and gyms around every corner. There are abundant bike paths and jogging routes.

People seem happy and content with their lives.

In 2008, Best Health Magazine ranked Canada’s Top 20 Healthiest metropolitan cities:

1. Vancouver

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2. Victoria
3. Calgary
4. Edmonton
5. Ottawa
6. Quebec
7. Halifax
8. Saskatoon
9. Summerside
10. Toronto
11. Winnipeg
12. Montreal
13. Charlottetown
14. Brandon
15. Corner Brook
16. St. John’s
17. Regina
18. Moncton
19. Saint John
20. Lunenburg

The cities were scored on various criteria such as alcohol use, air quality, amount of fruits and vegetables eaten, life expectancy, stress, # overweight, etc. You can read all the stats here.

Canadians: Do you live in or near one of the healthiest cities? Do you agree with the study results? Why or why not? Should your city be on that list? Or do you think you live in an unhealthy city?


The AARP Magazine, also selected the United State’s Top 10 healthiest cities in 2008:

1. Ann Arbor, Michigan

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2. Honolulu, Hawaii

3. Madison, Wisconsin

4. Santa Fe, New Mexico

5. Fargo, North Dakota

6. Boulder, Colorado

7. Charlottesville, Virginia

8. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Minnesota

9. San Fran, California

10. Naples, Florida

They also listed 9 cities that were noteworthy…

11. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

12. Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Massachusetts

13. St Cloud, Minnesota

14. Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Connecticut

15. Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, California

16. Burlington, Vermont

17. Provo-orem, Utah

18. Portland, Maine

19. Fort Collins, Loveland, Colorado

I thought this chart was interesting to read:

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US Readers: Do you live in a healthy city? Is your city healthy but not listed? Or do you think you have an unhealthy city? What needs to change?


For those of you outside of US and Canada, you can chime in on your city too!

I hope to do a post on the WORLD’s Healthiest cities too!

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne June 28, 2009

Yay! Ottawa is #5! Not too shabby :)


Katherine June 28, 2009

I wish I still lived in Boston b/c then I could say I lived in a healthy city! I do think NYC is pretty healthy, though I dont know if it has a very healthy body image. For one thing, NYers walk everywhere, so that has to count for something! I think it also has so many opportunities to encourage good health and I think that’s a very important aspect of the city.


Kelsey June 28, 2009

ann arbor number one?! thats so awesome! i live about 20 minutes away from aa and i definitely love being around because it is just super natural to walk rather than drive, eat vegetarian/vegan rather than meat, and pretty much take healthy living very seriously rather than put it on the back burner. its very much the epitome of health!
great post!


Susan June 28, 2009

I definitely don’t really live in a healthy city…people seem to think it’s weird when I’m running outside! I wish I lived in a more health mindful city, if only to meet more people like me!


ashley June 28, 2009

oo, way to go minneapolis/st paul, mn! and i see my old stomping grounds st cloud MN is on the list too! it must be my stats that are making them rank well! ;)


Marissa June 28, 2009

Hi there…I’m new to reading your blog. I’ve really been enjoying it though! I do not live in a healthy city, unfortunately. I live in New Olreans, LA. Too much alcohol drinking, not enough nature and natural living. I try daily to encourage healthiness in my city!


Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope June 28, 2009

Wow, I’m actually surprised to see Wisconsin on those lists a few times. I didn’t realize we were a healthier state, especially considering that it’s winter 9 months of the year! ;) I really don’t know how healthy my own city is though… I definitely plan on moving somewhere that I can truly feel healthy and supported in my health-consciousness when I get out of college! I’d love to go for walks and have lots of gyms around me. Can you believe that the nearest yoga class is an HOUR away!? tsk-tsk! hehe.



april June 28, 2009

Santa Fe got 4th?? Cool! I live about 30 minutes away from there!


kilax June 28, 2009

I went to college in Ames, Iowa. I am surprised it is on that list so many times!


Kath June 28, 2009

Good timing for our bakery research!!


Mandy Unruh June 28, 2009

Yay! My hometown (Ann Arbor) is number one! Makes me homesick…


Low June 28, 2009

I live in Oklahoma City, and I’m pretty sure we’re usually on the unhealthiest list. It’s not hard to see why – it’s hard to find healthy places to eat, and we drive everywhere. I hope we can make progress though and not always stay this way.

Thanks for all the lists!


Holly June 28, 2009

I live in Santa Rosa, CA, which is about 40 minutes north of San Francisco, so it usually gets lumped into categories with it. My town is pretty healthy though – although it’s suburbia so there’s not a lot of walking like in the city, we have several state parks and a gazillion running groups, triathlete groups, and just a lot of very outdoorsy people. I love it here.


Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now June 28, 2009

I’m pretty sure GA is in the top 10 UNhealthiest cities. It’s all the fried food, bbq, and Coca Cola. But I do love GA, so I don’t wanna bad-mouth it :)


Marcia June 28, 2009

Santa Barbara made it to the “noteworthy” list! I agree with Santa Fe, too. I’ve got friends there. It seems like a pretty healthy place. Great place to get healthy food, too, but maybe that’s just because my friends are vegetarian…


Rose June 28, 2009

I’m shocked DC didn’t make the cut. Even more shocked that Johnstown, PA (my hometown) is on that chart. Wow!


Katrina (gluten free gidget) June 28, 2009

I live near the Sarasota/Naples area. Not too shabby!


MareBare June 28, 2009

i live in santa barbara, ca one of the note-worthy cities and i definitely agree with it being healthy. everyone here is in amazing shape and bike, run, and walk everywhere. yay for good influences!!!


Laura June 28, 2009

I always like looking at these studies that are released, it’s interesting for certain. I see that there is a fellow Wisconsinite who has commented – hi Heather! I am from Milwaukee, WI and am not surprised it’s not one of the healthier ones. Forbes Magazine once determined Milwaukee to be the hardest-drinking city in America. I feel like in the past few years things have improved to get people in my city out and more active… our parks system is among the nation’s finest with recent improvements. Maybe sometime soon we’ll get on the healthiest cities list!


Kayzilla June 28, 2009

I live in North Richland Hills, Texas. It’s near Dallas/Fort Worth. People in North Richland Hills are fairly active considering there’s a ton of bike trails and nature parks nearby.. not really an abundant amount of healthy resteraunts. But there’s an abundance of overweight people here, and it’s fairly rare to see people actually commute from once place to the other on a bike or walk.. unless they’re still a minor and cannot get a car yet. XP


C June 28, 2009

I just moved back to Ontario after living in Victoria (#2!!) for a few years. I have to say, the difference is ASTOUNDING. Victoria just bursts with vitality, and health and wellness are part of the city’s culture. Even the grocery stores were superior, carrying huge amounts of organic foods with a real focus on local goods, yet all at pretty affordable prices. Standing in the checkout line, I was amazed at how colourful and healthful everyone’s goods were. Where I live now, all I see at the check out is foil bags and cardboard boxes of processed junk, maybe some iceberg lettuce thrown in, and the only place to buy “health” food is at the overpriced health store on the other side of town. I also couldn’t believe how fit everyone looked – overweight and obese people were few and far between (excluding the tourists!). I think the weather had a lot to do with it (nice allllll year round), as well as BC’s liberal attitudes that put such emphasis on quality of life. Clean air; beautiful scenery; no winter(!); health-oriented, socially & environmentally-conscious population; easy access to affordable healthy food and hundreds of healthy dining out options; hugely popular yoga studios, gyms, etc, as well as plenty of space to play outside…Wow, why did I ever leave??? In my opinion, Victoria should outrank Vancouver. And it definitely outranks my current city of residence (near-ish Toronto) which is sometimes appalling in comparison…


leslie June 28, 2009

bridgeport, ct is noteable? my hometown is like 20 minutes form there and let’s just say, that is shocking to me!

i live in nyc, and i think it’s definitely one of the healthier cities in terms of healthy food and exercise prevalence. in terms of being green and clean – it’s got a loooooong way to go.


kArLy June 29, 2009

i’m in the 8th healthiest city! whooo saskatoon!


Cuts and Curves June 29, 2009

I’m shocked that Edmonton is so high on the list!


Jessica June 29, 2009

I have ex-step family that lives near Madison, WI! They actually live in a small town right outside of it. However they don’t necessarily fall in those statistics …. Haha!
I however was born and raised in Missouri and I live in Omaha, NE now and while Missouri seemed average, Nebraska is fat fat fat!!!! I wish we had more healthy shops around here. I would kill for a Froyo type place of some sort with all the fresh berries … the closest we have is TCBY…….. ARGH!


Tay June 29, 2009

Oh how funny! The town where I am now (going to school) is actually listed on there under the health care section! I never see my actual town listed (just nearby large cities – like San Fran). But I’m currently in San Luis Obispo..funny that it’s actually listed. It’s a relatively small town with a population of about 40,000!


Marissa M June 29, 2009

I live in honolulu, hi!! very cool that my city is listed! Thats very interesting.. I wonder what they base their ratings on..


Amanda June 29, 2009

I live excatly between Burlington, VT and Boston, MA. So I guess I’m covered!!! Not to mention I work for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Home of the first medical school!!!


Carolyn June 29, 2009

Woo woo…Ann Arbor is great…I live 20 minutes away in a bedroom community of A2. That town is expensive to live IN, and a large college town. They are not kidding about the healthy potential… if you want to take advantage… U of M helps to influence, as do a million health food stores (two WFd’s and a TJ’s + others) and a beautiful town with lots to do. Since it was AARP selecting i am sure the HUGE UM hospital went into their equation also… Go BLUE!…even though i am technically a SPARTAN..go MSU ;-)


April June 29, 2009

I live in Greenwood Indiana. Indiana itself i’m sure is very unhealthy. There are little towns here and there though that you can tell are getting on the health bandwagon and that makes me happy.


Susan June 29, 2009

AS IF Saint John is healthy city!!! Only if breathing in oil refinery fumes is good for your health! Ewewewew. Maybe it’s just because it has a huge park that Irving built? I’m from Moncton, and it’s got some great things, but the river there will never compare to the river in Fredericton. I think Freddy could give the other two NB cities a run for their money ;)


Madison June 29, 2009

I wish my city was listed as healthy b/c I believe Raleigh, NC is very healthy! Even though it is in the south and full of deep fried goodness, Raleigh is starting to open up to more organic and fresher options! AND lots of walking trails all over the city.


kim June 29, 2009

Ann Arbor ROCKS! I totally can see why it’s so healthy – so many people bike and walk around the university. there were SO many healthy restaurant options too. I loved living there while in school and thought briefly about staying there afterwards.

Where I live now is not healthy. There are barely any bike paths and often, there aren’t even sidewalks to walk! They keep expanding the roads to make room for car commuters which eliminates the non car pathways. And there are no initiatives and health fairs like I see in other cities. Other than the farmer’s markets, good luck finding organic anything.


Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 29, 2009

I have a feeling that my city would rank pretty low…


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 29, 2009

How much do you guys think factors like smog and overall frindliness of the city should give weight to the studies?


Jenn June 29, 2009

Waaaah, I don’t live in a healthy Canadian city (Windsor). For the most part the population is overweight and it’s so polluted down here. Some of us however, try to break the norm ;) On a good note, we are only 45 minutes from Ann Arbor and it is an AMAZING place – like said above, much thanks to the U of M.

I miss Fredericton – which I’m surprised didn’t make one of the healthiest cities. Every time I visit I’m impressed how such a relatively small city is so progressive when it comes to healhty living.


Valerie June 29, 2009

I was surprised to see Toronto on the list. But then I clicked on the link and saw that they’d chosen the cities ahead of time, two per province. I thought that was kind of an odd method, rather than looking at the actual healthiest cities. Considering Toronto’s poor air quality (a 0, the worst score, on their scale) I was surprised they would choose it out of all the other cities in Ontario.

I think Waterloo, where I live, would probably be fairly high up there, if chosen. The air quality is much better here, there are bike paths (though not as many bike lanes on the roads unfortunately) and parks for recreational activities, RIM Park, and we’ve got a nice supply of fruits and veggies from the Mennonites and farming community all around us so I can’t imagine people not making use of that.

One thing I found interesting was the rating of self-rated good health and that some cities scored very low, especially considering their position on the list and overall score!


LindsayH June 29, 2009

Ames, IA! That’s me.
That’s interesting, I had no idea!
97.9% of the people here have health insurance, that is AMAZING. I guess it is because most people work for the University (Iowa State Univ.) or are students at the University. I also think it’s interesting that we made the top of the list for the longest life expectancy. We really do not have very many elderly people here, so I guess the ones we do have are healthier. Also that good insurance coverage probably helps with a long life! I’m sure the lack of violent crime contributes too.


Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope June 29, 2009

Totally off topic. Angela, the shorts that you’re wearing here:

are they lululemon? Do you know what they’re called? Thanks.


Amy June 29, 2009

Go Ottawa! WOO HOO!


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