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2009 Fittest Cities: #1 Salt Lake City, UT

Published: 01/16/2009

by Men's Fitness

Now that's an impressive debut. A newcomer to MF's annual list, the Utah capital jumped (or shall we say, slalomed) to the top of the survey because of its abundance of park space, athletically motivated residents, and below- average obesity rates. While the 2002 Winter Olympics host is known for its abundance of cold-weather activities, Salt Lake City is also athletically impressive away from the mountains.

The metro region ranks highest in our survey in participation in a number of activities, including beach volleyball, racquetball, aerobics, hiking, basketball, yoga, tai chi, swimming, cycling, running, and kickboxing.

"Outdoor recreation is simply a part of the lives of those who call Salt Lake City home," says Mayor Ralph Becker. "We have immediate access to the Wasatch Mountains, which offer some of the finest year-round recreation anywhere." The city's high amount of park acreage per capita (fourth best overall) may have to do with residents' lower TV viewing time, which is 23% less than average.

Becker works out every morning before biking or walking the one-mile route to his office. On weekends, he hikes or skis Utah's vast backcountry. As mayor of Salt Lake City, it's no surprise that Becker would take full advantage of the state's many natural outdoor resources. But he's not alone. More than half of Salt Lake City's residents rack up at least a half hour of exercise almost every day. For this reason, and many more, Salt Lake City earns the honor of being MF's Fittest City in America.

Report Card:

  • Fitness Centers & Sport Stores: A
  • Nutrition: B
  • Sports Participation: A
  • TV Viewing: A
  • Overweight/Sedentary: A
  • Junk Food: F+
  • Air Quality: C+
  • Geography: B
  • Commute: B
  • Parks & Open Space: A
  • City Rec Facilities: A
  • Access to Healthcare: C-
  • Motivation: A
  • Mayor & City Initiatives: C-
  • State Obesity Initiatives: C+
  • Read the entire Men's Fitness 2009 Fittest/Fatest Cities article