That’s why WalletHub put together a panel of experts to analyze which U.S. cities rank best and worst for an active lifestyle. Pulling data from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Walk Score, the panel determined which cities have the most physically active populations—and which come up short. You can read the full report and an explanation of the methodology here.
Where does your city rank?
10. Arlington, Texas1 of 11
Home to the Texas Rangers, Arlington's love of baseball isn't enough to save this city from falling into the bottom 10 least active cities. The city scored surprisingly low in access to sports facilities and outdoor recreation—for example, it has the fewest basketball hoops per capita of all 100 cities.
According to one of the study's experts, Michael E. Hahn, Associate Professor in the Human Physiology Department at the University of Oregon, being home to a major sports team doesn't actually guarantee an active city. "In my opinion, professional sports teams generally increase commerce related to sporting activity, but not activity in the fan-base," he says.
9. Irving, Texas2 of 11
Texas makes its second appearance on the list, though not its last, with Irving, a city with 200,000-plus residents. Irving ranked especially low in the budget and participation category, meaning its residents did not have ample opportunity to participate in physical activity, whether it be due to high gym membership fees or low numbers of available sports clubs.
8. Toledo, Ohio3 of 11
This northwest Ohio town, known as the Glass City, falls eighth in the overall ranking and has one of the lowest percentages of physically active residents in the United States. What can a city do to get their residents out and about?
"(Invest in) walkable and accessible paths, access to low-cost exercise facilities and bike lanes," says Beth Lewis, Associate Professor of Behavioral Aspects of Physical Activity and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Minnesota. "Research indicates that individuals who live in active neighborhoods are more likely to become active themselves."
7. Newark, N.J.4 of 11
The most populous city in the state of New Jersey, Newark, falls seventh on this list due to their lack of budget and participation in physical exercise. Even though it's by a major metropolis, Newark actually ranks third for fewest fitness centers per capita, fourth for fewest public golf courses and second in the nation for fewest park playgrounds.
6. Hialeah, Fla.5 of 11
Sunny Florida may seem like a playground to vacationers, but that's exactly what this city is lacking. Home to over 200,000 residents, Hialeah has the fewest park playgrounds per capita of all 100 cities surveyed—that's 14 times less parks then the top contenders.
How do you keep children active without access to parks? Panelist Jason Miller, Associate Professor and Chair of the Exercise and Sport Science Department at Oklahoma City University, says the answer is surprisingly simple.
"Parents must be active, that's it," he says. "Like anything else with kids, if you model something for them and make it part of the family's lifestyle, then it will become a family value and then a personal value that will travel with the individual throughout their life."
5. New York, N.Y.6 of 11
It may be surprising to see this hustle-and-bustle city so close to the number one spot, but just because it's walker-friendly doesn't mean New York has every box checked off. The city ranks the second highest for most expensive fitness club fees in the country, and it has the least golf courses per capita of all the surveyed cities (a whopping 90 times less).
4. Dallas, Texas7 of 11
This major southern city scored an overall 26.77 out of 100 possible points, bringing it down to the fourth spot. Dallas' low score was mostly due to the budget and participation category—though it's a professional sports mecca, the city might not be doing enough to provide affordable exercise options for everyday residents.
Since gym memberships and club fees can be sky-high in some cities, it's important to make use of what you have, says Leapetswe Malete, Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at Michigan State University. "Walking, jogging, biking in the neighborhood and finding a friend to workout with is more sustainable," he says. "Buying some inexpensive equipment for use at home, such as free weights or a jump rope, also helps."
3. North Las Vegas, Nev.8 of 11
North Las Vegas, which sits a little northeast of the bright lights of Las Vegas, cracks this list's top three, mostly due to the scarcity of sports and outdoor recreation facilities throughout the city. Most notably, they have some of the fewest tennis courts per capita of all the cities surveyed.
2. Laredo, Texas9 of 11
Texas appears for the fourth and final time on this list with Laredo, a city that sits on the Mexico-United States border, near the Rio Grande. Laredo scored 25.43 out of 100 possible points, and ranked especially low in the budget and participation category, with prices of gyms, club and fitness facilities not affordable for most of its residents.
1. Memphis, Tenn.10 of 11
Memphis, a southern city of around 650,000 people, took the number one spot on this list, scoring only 24.81 out of 100 possible points. Of all the cities surveyed, the Home of the Blues had the highest percentage of physically inactive residents in the United States—we blame the amazing barbecue.