Healthy is the new trend. People are moving towards a lifestyle that involves a healthier diet, more exercise and less disease. And this time around, it’s the younger generation that is adopting the healthy lifestyle. Instead of taking curative measures after the damage has been done, the idea is to prevent the damage altogether. So people are now starting early.
Take college students for instance. An increasing part of this group is becoming more health conscious. Not only are students now concerned with their own health, but they also prefer living in environments that are healthy on the whole. They are now on the lookout for college towns that offer a healthy environment that fits in perfectly with their fitness regime. If you are among this increasing number of students, we have just the list for you – A compilation of the 25 Fittest College Towns in the US.
Before we move on to the list itself, lets take a look at how we compiled this list and what factors played a vital role in this process. Instead of researching each and every city, date was drawn from 185 ‘metropolitan statistical areas (MSA)’ – geographical bodies defined by the Census Bureau. To determine the fittest and healthiest among these, data was compiled under eight different yet relevant categories.
- Number of people who were physically active
- Body weight
- Cases of heart diseases
- Cases of diabetes
- Cases of depression
- Percentage of current smokers
- Vegetable and fruit consumption – determined by the percentage of people over 18 years of age who eat vegetables and fruits 5 or more times a day
- Number of college students in the respective area
With these factors in mind, we developed a list of the fittest college towns in the US. And to make matters even simpler for you, we even named a few of the colleges in each MSA.
25 – Bellingham, Washington
Universities: Western Washington University, Northwest Indian College, Bellingham Technical College
This town ranks high on several counts. Over 40% of its residents are within a normal weight range. In addition, they are very active, as determined by the fact that nearly 81.8% of them engage in regular exercise. People here are often seen walking or cycling to get around. The active lifestyle in Bellingham is facilitated by Mount Baker for snow sports and Bellingham Bay for water sports.
24 – Kahului-Wailuku, Hawaii
Universities: University of Hawai’i Maui College
The depression rate for the people of Maui is very low and people are generally satisfied and content with their lifestyles. The area is high on water sports such as windsurfing, sail boarding, snorkeling and diving, thanks to the fact that about 80 beaches lie in close proximity. Heart diseases are low and very few residents smoke. The overall relaxed atmosphere on the island gives way to an all round healthy lifestyle for the residents here.
23 – Eugene, Oregon
Universities: University of Oregon, Northwest Christian University, Willamette University, Western Oregon University
Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene is the state’s agricultural hub. With such widespread dominance of family produce farms, it comes as no surprise that the residents have a healthy consumption of fruits and vegetables. It has around 85.7% active residents, and a large variety of riverfront parks, trails for hiking, cycling, mountain biking and running. In addition to this, the region also offers a lot of water sports at the Oregon coast.
22 – Reno, Nevada
Universities: Truckee Meadows Community College, University of Nevada-Reno
Nevadans from Reno have the lowest rate of heart diseases and diabetes in the US. In addition, they have an active lifestyle, with over 80% of the residents exercising regularly. The area has a pleasant weather year-round, making it ideal for bike riding and jogging. And the nearby Lake Tahoe provides the perfect place for mountain biking or water sports, with a stunning backdrop all around.
21 – Boise, Idaho
Universities: Boise State University, College of Western Idaho
Boise is the infamous healthy city. It is known to have been among the best cities for a healthy life, raising a family, recreation, lovely downtowns and the best city for asthmatics. Besides that, the residents here have a low rate of heart diseases and diabetes. The crime rate, along with the cost of living is also low. The city is home to Sun Valley, one of the country’s most visited ski resorts. Idaho produces the nation’s largest amounts of lentils, trout and potatoes, and is home to over 3,000 miles of river.
20 – Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
Universities: Grand Canyon University, Paradise Valley Community College, Arizona State University, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, GateWay Community College, South Mountain Community College
Known as the Valley of the Sun, this area gets over 300 sunny days a year. The temperature remains comfortable for a substantial part of the year. The region has a low number of heavy drinkers, a low rate of heart disease, and a low number of smokers. In addition, over 36% residents are in the normal weight range. The area also has very light traffic, making it a very peaceful place to live.
19 – Fargo, North Dakota
Universities: North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Concordia College at Moorhead
Fargo is the biggest city in the state with a population of over 100,000. The city has a low rate of diabetes and heart diseases. And it also ranks low on heavy drinking. The parks in the city have many recreational opportunities to help residents remain physically active. These activities include trails, skate parks, disc golf, batting cages and sledding hills.
18 – Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, Florida
Universities: Nova Southeastern University, Miami International University of Art and Design, Florida International University, Florida National College, Keiser University, Florida Atlantic University, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Home to many warm and sunny beaches, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area has some of the lowest depression rates in the United States. The residents of this area enjoy many activities such as paddle boarding, snorkeling, and parasailing and so on. In addition to healthy recreation, the region is home to a large variety of raw, vegan, or vegetarian food restaurants. The number of smokers in the town is also low, along with fewer heavy drinkers.
17 – Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut
Universities: Trinity College, Springfield Technical Community College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Wesleyan University, Manchester Community College
Hartford has a small number of smokers, and around 37% of the residents are within the normal weight range. The area has one of the highest rates of vegetable and fruit consumption of all MSAs. To encourage people to settle in the green space, Hartford has been rejuvenating its riverfront area and adding popular spots to it.
16 – Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont
Universities: University of Vermont, SUNY College at Potsdam, Adirondack Community College, Dartmouth College, Middlebury College
Outdoor activities here are considered a ‘way of life’ with over 85% of the residents being physically active. The Lake Champlain offers many water sports, and the opportunity for activities such as running, cycling and hiking. Burlington has one of the highest vegetable consumption rates and low rates of heart disease and diabetes. The city has been called the “Perfect Small City” by National Geographic Traveler.
15 – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Universities: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado State University, Arapahoe Community College, Pueblo Community College, Colorado Technical University
The striking surroundings of Colorado are enough to lure the residents into a healthy lifestyle. Peaks in the West are an invitation to physical activities such as hiking and running. The infamous Garden of the Gods is known for its stunning sandstone formations and countless opportunities for hiking and climbing. A very high percentage of residents in this region are considered active. On top of that, Colorado Springs was ranked the second most Fittest City in America by Men’s Fitness.
14 – -San Bernardino-Ontario, California
Universities: University of California-Riverside, California Baptist University, Loma Linda University, Universal Technical Institute of California, Crafton Hills College, Everest College, ITT Technical Institute
Riverside invested a staggering $1.6 billion to revitalize the city and make it more commercial and walkable. The warm, dry climate of this region makes it an enjoyable place to live in, and also contribute to the low rate of depression. Bike riding and hiking are common activities in this region with attractions such as Box Springs Mountain Reserve and Mount Rubidoux. The area also has a huge selection of local produce, helping 27% of the residents eat the recommended vegetables and fruits.
13 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Universities: Temple University, Drexel University, The University of the Arts, University of Sciences in Philadelphia, Saint Joseph’s University
The residents of Philadelphia not only enjoy a large number of museums, but also a great variety of outdoor activities to help them remain active and healthy. The gigantic Fairmount Park has around 9,200 acres of hills, trails, woodlands and waterfronts. This area even has activities such as rock climbing. The Silver Nature Lake in the city offer opportunities for kayaking. Places such as Schuylkill, are well-known rowing locations. With a high vegetable consumption rate, and low incidence of heart diseases, the city has earned a spot on this list, and rightly so.
12 – Denver-Aurora, Colorado
Universities: Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Denver, Lincoln College of Technology, Community College of Aurora
Even though the Denver area gets 300 days of sunshine every year, it is just one and a half hours away from top ski resorts such as Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain and Vail. The city is also a short distance away from the Rocky Mountain National Park, 400 square miles of lakes, hiking and waterfalls. The city also has a very active bicycle sharing program, known as Denver B-cycle. This program has landed Denver the title of “Cycle Town, USA”. Furthermore, the city has a very low, 28% incidence of heart diseases. Obesity is also very low and a large majority of residents are physically active.
11 – Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut
Universities: University of Bridgeport, Norwalk Community College, University of New Haven, Fairfield University, The College of New Rochelle, Gateway Community College
Home to various parks and places for activities such as walking/biking, outdoor exercise classes, pavilions, gardens and much more, this region is high on health. Another venue full of healthy opportunities is Chelsea Piers, a huge athletic complex offering a great variety of activities such as swimming, gymnastics, ice rink, racquet sports and court sports. This helps the residents of this area to remain healthy, with a low rate of diabetes and low rates of smoking.
10 – Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Everest Institute, Central Texas College, Texas State University – San Marcos, Temple College, Texas Culinary Academy
Residents of Austin are all about health, both physical and mental, through the use of two simple tools: music and the outdoors. Austin is known as the music town. Not only do the residents keep the mood light and healthy here with good music, but they also keep themselves healthy and fresh with various fitness routines. You would find residents enjoying Town Lake on paddleboards or in kayaks. On warm summer evenings, there is the 68-degree Barton Springs, a three-acre, naturally filled swimming pool. Add to that, many trails and other recreational athletics, combined with a low rate of diabetes and heart disease, and you have the ideal health conscious town.
9 – Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Massachusetts
Universities: Harvard University, Boston University, Lesley University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge College, Tufts University
Being the sister city of Boston, Cambridge residents can enjoy Boston’s outdoor spaces. The paved pathways along the Charles River encourage biking and walking among residents. 81.2% of the residents in the area remain physically active and a significantly high 40.6 are well within the normal weight range. Only 13.7% residents of this area are smokers, contributing further to the healthy atmosphere. Home to several world renowned universities, Cambridge is also known for its ‘brain fitness’.
8 – Nassau-Suffolk Counties (Long Island), New York
Universities: Long Island University-Brentwood, Saint Joseph’s College – Suffolk Campus, Nassau Community College, SUNY College at Old Westbury
Long Island is among the most populated islands in the world. The area has some of the lowest rates of heavy drinking and depression in the country. Residents of this MSA spend their time in the area’s arts, culture, history and various outdoor activities. A large number of sandy white beaches are a short distance away and the numerous parks provide plentiful opportunities for biking, hiking and running. Other options for physical activities include kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, horseback riding, whale watching, boating, surfing and so on.
7 – Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
Universities: Aims Community College, Colorado State University, Laramie County Community College
Fort Collins is an epitome of a college town. Students from Colorado State make up about 1/5 of the city’s population. Regularly listed on Money Magazine’s one of the absolute best places to live, the town provides plenty of opportunities for a good and healthy lifestyle. The nearby Rocky Mountains, over 50 parks, more than 280 miles of trails, three public golf courses and four recreation centers are all the reason why residents of this city manage to remain in good shape and health. Residents can also spend time fly fishing, whitewater rafting or stand-up paddle-boarding.
6 – Atlanta, Georgia
Universities: Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Atlanta Technical College, Argosy University-Atlanta, Spelman College
Atlanta has a very rich history and culture. The demographics are culturally diverse and the city has the busiest airport in the world. Atlanta has relatively low rates of heavy drinking and depression along with the second highest consumption of vegetables and fruits in the United States. Atlanta Beltline, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Fountain Rings in Centennial Olympic Park offer opportunities for various healthy physical activities.
5 – San Francisco, California
Universities: San Francisco State University, Golden Gate University-San Francisco, California Institute of Integral Studies, University of California Hastings College of Law
The city known for its location by the bay and its liberal activism, San Francisco has seen a significant growth since its historic beginnings in 1849. San Francisco is a unique mix of architecture, rolling hills and cool summers and lots of landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Alcatraz Island. The region does well in various measures of health, such as body weight, depression and heart disease. Residents of the area enjoy a wide variety of entertainment options that include a number of outdoor activities, thanks to the proximity to the coastline.
4 – Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia-Virginia
Universities: George Washington University, American University, Trinity Washington University, Marymount University, Northern Virginia Community College, The Art Institute of Washington, Catholic University of America
The nation’s capital is perhaps one of the most well known cities in the world. People from all over the world, travel to this city to look at the White House, take a stroll around the Tidal Basin and check out the numerous museums on the National Mall. The city is full of people with great ambitions and power-driven personalities. And even with such high stakes and seemingly stressful lifestyle, the region has one of the lowest rates of depression in the country. People prefer to remain on a healthy fruit/vegetable diet to keep themselves in shape. Even a quick tour of the region would reveal a large number of joggers and outdoor activities’ enthusiasts.
3 – Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, California
Universities: California College of Arts, Laney College, Chabot College, California State University – East Bay, Academy of Art University, Saint Mary’s College of California
One look at the Oakland territory would make you realize how perfect it is for nature lovers. It is concentrated with rich flatland soil, tons of green space and redwood timber. Its climate is the reason why it was named the #1 Climate in America by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This MSA is nearly at the top position in health concerns, with its low incidence of heart disease, low rates of depression and high levels of physical activity and vegetable/fruit consumption. These characteristics come as no surprise, since the region has miles of waterfront, easy access to a redwood forest within minutes of downtown along with over 100,000 acres of parks.
2 – Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California
Universities: Everest College – Anaheim, American Career College, University of California-Irvine, Santiago Canyon College, Brandman University, Orange Coast College, Concordia University
Irvine has been ranked by both Businessweek and CNN as one of the best places to live in the United States. In addition, the city has very low crime rate, as reported by the FBI. With its powered lifestyle and high income residents, the city was named “Best Run City in the US” by 24/7 Wall Street. This MSA has some of the lowest rates of depression, along with a low rate of smokers and high level of physical activity. Add to that the 42 miles of beach coastline that allows visitors to take up water sports, and you have a perfect healthy town in all regards.
1 – San Jose-Santa Clara, California
Universities: San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, Foothill College, De Anza College, Mission College
This region is considered the healthiest MSA on this list, with good scores in every category. It has the second highest percentage of people with normal body weight, high level of physical activity and very low rates of depression. Residents of the area consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables to remain in good health and shape. The area also has nearly a dozen parks in close proximity, wide areas of green spaces with plenty of outdoor concerts and water attractions. In addition, there are more than 50 miles of trails in San Jose, making the region a bicyclers’ and trekkers’ heaven.