Special Report

The 25 Best Cities for Active People


To identify the best and worst cities for active people, 24/7 Tempo constructed a weighted index of five measures: (1.) the share of workers who commute by walking, (2.) the number of fitness and recreational sports facilities for every 100,000 people, (3.) the share of the population with easy access to venues for exercise, (4.) the share of adults who regularly engage in physical activity in their leisure time, and (5.) how pedestrian and cyclist friendly an area is.

Data on commuters who walk was collected at the metropolitan area level from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.

Data on the number of fitness and recreational sports facilities that feature exercise and other active physical fitness conditioning per 100,000 people is from the Census Bureau’s 2018 County Business Patterns and was aggregated up to the metro area level.

Both the share of adults who have access to exercise facilities and the share of adults who are regularly physically active in their leisure time are for the most recent available period from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. These measures were also aggregated up to the county level.

Data on how pedestrian and cyclist friendly a given city is came from the 2020 City & Neighborhood Ranking for Bike Scores from WalkScore.com, a company that provides walkability services and apartment search tools. WalkScore measures areas  based on an index of bike infrastructure, hills, destinations and road connectivity, and number of bike commuters. This data is reflective of the city proper, rather than the broader metro area.

Values selected for the index were standardized into Z-Scores, which assumes a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1. For metro areas spanning multiple cities within the Bike Score Rankings, the highest value for that metro area was used in the index.

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