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

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on June 28, 2009

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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

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


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:


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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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

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TorontoGirloutWest June 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

I am originally from Toronto but I lived in Victoria for four years and I’ve spent oodles of times in Vancouver (feels like a 3rd home).

I have to say I agree with Vancouver and Victoria being at the top of the list although I think Victoria should have ended up first.

Living in Toronto I always heard about the “lifestyle” of the West Coast and how it resulted in people being healthier. Pish posh I though! How wrong I was!!!!

The weather helps oodles. Nice weather pretty well all year long means you’re more likely to spend time outdoors. There are running paths and huge parks right near the downtown of both cities (Vancouver and Victoria). Everyone is really into a healthy organic kind of lifestyle. Yes it’s not cheap but it seems so much more prevalent on the West Coast.

Did I mention gyms a plenty? Honestly you can’t throw a rock without hitting a gym or yoga studio. I love that!

PLUS the biggest advantage that Victoria has (much more than Vancouver) is that it’s such a walkable city. If you live in Victoria proper you can get a ton done without having to own a car. I used to walk to the beach, work, the gym, Chinatown. The whole deal! Avoiding a car and walking instead made such a huge difference to my waist line.

Basically I could go on and on raving about the West Coast lifestyle!

PS: Last August I moved to a small town in the Canadian Rockies. Not as healthy. Barely any gyms. And you have to drive everywhere (that includes massive off-road drives to get to trail heads). I miss Victoria something fierce!!


Jackie June 29, 2009 at 10:26 am

I live in shoreline Connecticut…not more than 20 minutes away from Bridgeport/Norwalk/Stamford. I think all of the shoreline is really “healthier” than most places. The beaches, state parks, and opportunities for health are across a lot of the state. There is access to naturopathic physicians (covered by some insurance companies) as well as holistic wellness centers, and natural food stores. I know in my town and the surrounding towns the health resources are tremendous. Obviously there could be more done, but I think the area is doing pretty well.


Recipes for Creativity June 29, 2009 at 11:05 am

I currently live outside of Asheville, North Carolina. I would say it’s a pretty healthy city for the south because there is a huge local food movement and lots of outdoor activities. I know the south overall isn’t the healthiest place, but I still feel healthy!


Kaolee June 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

My city (Atlanta) definitely did not make it!


Katharina June 29, 2009 at 11:34 am

No wonder my parents love to go vacationing in Naples! It’s such a relaxing area and so many people do things to enjoy life’s moments. And they do it with such calm and youthfulness :)


Menden (SkinnyMenny) June 29, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I live near Philadelphia, which apparently is not only one of the fattest cities in the US, but also the UGLIEST! Grrrr!


Monica June 29, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I live in Dallas. I can see a lot of reasons that Dallas is not yet on the list, but it is exciting to see positive healthy changes coming to our city. A 3.5 mile long run/bike trail is being constantly improved as is the trail around the lake. Both are in use by walkers, runners, rollerbladers and bikers of all ages (despite the swealtering heat we’ve had lately). There are great plans to build more parks and greenspace in the downtown area too!


Bridget June 29, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I live in Victoria, so it’s nice to see it on the list! I must say that it is a pretty healthy city. There are not many overweight people, and several healthy food options. I see a lot of people running, biking and walking around my neighbourhood.


Bree June 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Wow! I have lived in 3 of the American cities. Very cool to see. Mpls/St. Paul has a great biking community with lots of trails to explore in the metro.


Aaron @ CrossBorderCravings June 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm

It’s interesting that the healthiest cities in Canada are all OUT WEST!! This only inspires me even more to move out there, lol. Ontario is barely mentioned! :o(


Jackie June 29, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I should also add that I have been to Honolulu from a “local” point of view…and I can tell you that I am NOT surprised they are number 2 on the list. Because, they are all about activity and fresh food. Surfing and fish are two staples of the lifestyle there and you can tell by the people who live there enjoy life.


Rachel June 29, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Yay for Fort Collins and Loveland, CO! I grew up in Loveland and moved to Fort Collins about 6 years ago. We have lots of hiking/biking/walking trails available, healthy food (grocery and restaurants) and lots of sunshine! SO GLAD I live here!!


Bree June 29, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I definitely think Burlington, VT is a healthy city. I used to live a few doors down from someone who competed in the Ironman competition and my other neighbors were triathletes. Talk about motivation to get moving!


Tara June 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Yay for Quebec city!!
With all the hills and stairs here, no subway, and beautiful parks along the river no wonder we’re healthier than Montrealers ;)


Nikbis June 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Ahh all the more reason to move back to Halifax – its 10 cities healthier than St John’s (where I just moved to a month ago)!!! They don’t even really recycle here – they just throw everything away except cans and plastic bottles.

Yep here is St John’s – milk cartons, compost, EVERYTHING goes in the garbage – its so gross and sad.

I know its not really a “health” concern, but the planet should be a health concern IMO!!

In Halifax, we recycled tons of stuff, even had the green bins for compost. Ahhhhh I loved it there.

Thanks for posting this! Gave a me a reason to vent a little something that’s been on my mind ;)


Beverly June 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

I’m from Atlanta, GA and it’s horribly unhealthy. Vast amounts of smog make it difficult to breath when you walk outside, especially in this hot, humid weather we’re having down here!


Isha June 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Ithaca for greenest commuters!! That’s my hometown – I lived there for 18 years – and this choice is spot on. The downtown area is really conducive to biking and walking, and it being a college town, a lot of professors live within walking/biking distance to campus. It’s great to see it represented!

This survey also gives me a great place to start when I begin looking for places to move after grad school. :-)


[email protected] June 29, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Yay Boston!We have great access to healthcare here, and there are TONS of runners! I love our awesome running paths along the Charles, the South Boston coastline, and the harbor. I would LOVE to visit most of the Canadian cities on the list!


Gloria June 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Interesting, Edmonton is ranked number 4.
I think we are pretty unhealthy.
The long weather makes working out outdoor quite impossible
(well I don’t want to go jog outside when it’s -25)
and the price of fruits and veggies are expensive
it’s just way cheaper to eat meat here
There are quite a lot of overweight people here too
so I just find it weird that Edmonton is ranked so high
And it’s also not that easy to eat vegan here


Ashley July 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Ooo I’m so proud of my city (Vancouver)!!


Bart Dumpcake September 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm

All the things I love: Hockey, Ann Arbor, Organic food, American women who like hockey, Canadian Women and Torch Lake.


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