Top 5 Healthiest Cities in North America

Which North American city tops this years list? Hint: There's an inactive Volcano...

How healthy and fit is your North American city? An agency called Spotahome has used data from the WHO, OECD, CIA World Factbook, and others to compile a list of 89 cities across the world, ranking them from healthiest to unhealthiest based on how they fare on 10 criteria from “air and water quality” to “work-life balance”. The final score is calculated as an average of each of these factors.

Samir Becic 4 x Number 1 Fitness Trainer and author of ReSYNC Your Life and his Health Fitness Revolution team used the data mentioned above but removed three factors that we decided were less relevant to health: work-life balance (difficult to calculate), sunshine, and electric car charging stations. The factors we deemed highly tangible to better health are: life expectancy, gym rating, fast food outlets, obesity, vacation days, air and water quality, and green spaces.  We averaged the score of these 7 factors to compile the list of these Top 5 Healthiest Cities in North America.

With this article, we want to encourage other North Americans cities to be more physically fit and active in order to thrive in the modern world.  The wealth and prosperity of a nation are dependent on the health and physicality of its people.  Also, since the Top 3 of this list are in Canada, we hope America’s stats can improve and crack the Top by next year! Without further ado, here are this year’s Top 5 Healthiest North American Cities:

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is the #5 Healthiest City in North America
  • Gym Rating: 4.55
  • Life Expectancy: 7.53
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.57
  • Obesity: 0.73
  • Vacation Days: 1.68
  • Air and Water Quality: 7.41
  • Green Space: 7.96

San Francisco is not only on our list, but frequently tops the rankings of the happiesthealthiest and fittest cities in America, and Bloomberg Businessweek called San Francisco the best city in America in 2012. Its inhabitants are active and PETA even named the city one of the most “veg-friendly” cities in the US, which is important when research shows that plant-based diets are healthier for us. You can even eat the fruit that grows on the trees in certain public park!

4. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is the #4 Healthiest City in North America
  • Gym Rating: 7.4
  • Life Expectancy: 7.53
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7.98
  • Obesity: 0.73
  • Vacation Days: 2.33
  • Air and Water Quality: 6.74
  • Green Space: 8.83

Chicago had the highest gym rating of any of the North American cities on this list. People who live close to gyms, pools and playing fields weigh less and have smaller waistlines than their counterparts residing farther away from exercise facilities, a study suggests. Living far away from fast food outlets also appeared to help people maintain a lower weight and trimmer waist, although this connection wasn’t as strong as the proximity of gyms, researchers report in the Lancet Public Health.

3. Toronto, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario is the third healthiest city in North America
  • Gym Rating: 6.1
  • Life Expectancy: 8.42
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7.78
  • Obesity: 1.46
  • Vacation Days: 3.57
  • Air and Water Quality: 6.88
  • Green Space: 7.4

The Canadian cities on this list have the highest life expectancy and that’s no surprise. According to a report from the U.S. National Research Council, Canadians are going to outlive their American cousins, indicating they’re generally healthier and in better shape. Recent statistics estimate Canadians born in 2007 can expect to live to 82.3 years for girls and 79.3 for men, compared to 80.8 and 75.6 for kids in the U.S., respectively.

2. Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is the second healthiest city in North America
  • Gym Rating: 5.97
  • Life Expectancy: 8.42
  • Fast Food Outlets: 5.5
  • Obesity: 1.46
  • Vacation Days: 3.75
  • Air and Water Quality: 8.41
  • Green Space: 9.59

Vancouver ranked highest in air and water quality and in green space, which was expected. Vancouver is a unique city where at certain times of the year, residents can ski, hike, and surf all in the same day. Stanley park, which is in the middle of the city hosts expansive trees over 405-hectares that borders the downtown and is almost entirely surrounded by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. 

1. Montreal, Quebec

Montreal is the healthiest city in North America
  • Gym Rating: 5.32
  • Life Expectancy: 8.42
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7.94
  • Obesity: 1.46
  • Vacation Days: 3.93
  • Air and Water Quality: 7.28
  • Green Space: 8.92

Montreal sits at the foot of an inactive volcano that hosts a variety of outdoor for city-dwellers- hiking in the summer, and cross-country skiing in the winter! On top of this, Montreal scored the highest in the number of vacation days for citizens amongst these 5 cities. Numerous studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. So go ahead and schedule that much-needed break from work! Here is an article we wrote about healthy vacation activities.

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