How can we mere mortals make moves to change our lifestyles (and improve our health)?

According to a new Gallup and Healthways report, the answer may be pretty simple: head to a big city.

More specifically, reside in a place that has ample walking spaces, good public transport, easy biking paths, and lots of parks.

They don’t call it the Concrete Jungle for nothin’.

The study called out the top five cities that allow for naturally healthier living — New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Gallup noted that residents in these five large cities had, on average, significantly lower rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression in comparison to other cities that were polled.

Want to take advantage of these five cities’ landscapes that give both residents and visitors extra steps (and bragging rights)?

Check out each destination’s outdoorsy highlights below!

A photo posted by San Francisco (@onlyinsf) on

New York City: Where the pedestrian is queen.

With its pedestrian-friendly grid of streets, hundreds of miles of walking trails in its lush parks, and its comprehensive (and affordable) public transit options, it’s really no wonder New York made the list. When the subway can get you most anywhere and it’s not unusual to clock in five miles of walking a day, New York is the perfect place for a health-conscious resident or visitor. Just stash your selfie sticks, please.

Best place to take a walk? Central Park and its 843 acres of — dare we say it? — nature in New York City serve to reignite the hopeless romantic in all of us with its winding loops and well-manicured jaunts through cinematic history.

Chicago: Where you can kayak with a view.

A lake, a river, and plenty of nature retreats — all in one big city. Couple that with its really accessible public transportation and its over 200-miles of protected bike lanes and you’ve got yourself a naturally healthy city. Check out the beautiful Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, plan a picnic at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in the summer, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Michigan for a taste of the outdoors in Chicago!

Best place to see the iconic skyline? Head to Montrose Point and get your fill of views — from chirping birds to sweeping skylines, you’ll enjoy the nature respite from the big city.

A photo posted by Chicago (@choosechicago) on

Boston: Where your morning walk is a history lesson.

When a city website puts together a list of “Secret Garden Spots” to check out in the area, you know you’re living in a green space. With pedestrian-friendly streets, tons of public (and historic!) squares, and a revolutionary bike share system, Boston is a big city that has the vibes of a smaller West Coast town. Surrounded by water and astounding architecture, this metropolis is home to lots of happy and healthy residents.

Best place to stargaze? Check out the Public Open Night at the Observatory every Wednesday and learn some astronomy courtesy the Boston University Astronomy department.

A photo posted by Boston University (@bostonu) on

San Francisco: Where your calves will thank you.

Remember how in The Princess Diaries Mia was way ahead of the times by being a scootering, rock climbing kind of gal (hipster, much)? Not much has changed since 2001, except perhaps that the city has quadrupled efforts to make the steep streets a more pedestrian-, bike-, and public transit-friendly city. You’d be a fool not to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and check out the city from across the bay.

Best place to get your urban hike on? Head to the 10.5-mile California Coast Trail for exhilarating looks at the rugged San Franciscan coastline.

A photo posted by San Francisco (@onlyinsf) on

Washington, D.C.: Where cars are super unnecessary.

Seriously, ditch your wheels and say hello to your new best friends: left foot and right foot. Wind around national monuments, feel whimsical amid blooming cherry blossoms, feel like a part of history while perusing through the various museums (and by being right next to where present history is being written). With easy-to-use public transportation, tons of greenery, and miles of walking and biking paths, Washington, D.C. is a healthy hotspot!

Best place to take a stroll? Literally everywhere. But for a super scenic route, start at the Washington Monument, pass by the Constitution Gardens, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, swing by the MLK Jr. Memorial, and end your loop at the Floral Library where — you guessed it — thousands of tulips await.


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About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.