Sure, its winter temperatures can plunge to -30°F, but despite being one of the coldest metro areas in the continental U.S., Minneapolis has emerged as the top fitness hot spot (St. Paul, the Twin Cities’ other half, ranks No. 6). Credit plenty of parkland, a wide variety of gyms and studios, and that can-do Minnesota mentality that locals say keeps them motivated to keep moving year-round. “It never gets mundane here—we enjoy all of the seasons to the fullest, whether it’s getting out on the lakes in the summer or playing in the snow in the winter,” says Chris Freytag, founder of gethealthyu.com and longtime Minneapolis resident.
Major fitness chains like Lifetime Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Snap Fitness all started in the Twin Cities region, but boutique studios and independent clubs also hold strong appeal. “There’s no shortage of places to go when the weather gets cold—clubs here are well-attended year-round,” says Freytag. To judge by the whopping 82% of locals who hit monthly baseline exercise goals, Minneapolitans also take advantage of their natural resources to achieve peak fitness. Around 94% of the populace lives within a 10-minute walk to a park. Nice Ride Minnesota offers a bike-share program with 190 locations throughout the Twin Cities.
Being close to the heartland means plenty of healthy dining options. In fact, Saveur dubbed Minneapolis “America’s next great food city” in 2015. The popular Minneapolis Farmers Market stays open year-round. Top localvore dining spots include the California-inspired Mill Valley Kitchen and organic French Meadow Bakery & Café.
Five fun things to do in: Minneapolis
- Bike the 11-mile Chain of Lakes path, which intertwines four of the city’s central lakes.
- Go for a run along the banks of the Mississippi. (Check out minneapolisrunning.com for route ideas).
- Lift something heavy with the bodybuilders at strength mecca Los Campeones.
- Push yourself with the diverse class options at local fitness institution The Firm.
- Get sweaty at Modo Yoga Minneapolis, which features radiant heated panels so you can really stretch out.
Our “fittest cities” ranking comprises three indexes
The Healthy People Index looks at factors that affect the health of people living in cities such as obesity, smoking, physical and mental health, sleep, injury rates, and overall well-being. The Healthy City Index focuses on aspects that foster health, such as low crime, easy commutes, clean air, farmers markets, and ways to get around without a car. The Fit People Index examines whether people in the city are active in their free time and have ready access to rec or fitness centers or can easily get somewhere to work out. We then ranked the 100 largest U.S. cities according to population, giving bonus points for any city that scored high on the American College of Sports Medicine’s American Fitness Index.
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