Washington, DC is a beautiful city and although it is often known for its wild traffic, it is also one of the healthiest cities in the United States according to the 2011 American Fitness Index report.
The top 10 healthiest cities, according to the 2011 AFI report:
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
- Washington, D.C.
- Boston, Mass.
- Portland, Ore.
- Denver, Colo.
- San Francisco, Calif.
- Hartford, Conn.
- Seattle, Wash.
- Virginia Beach, Va.
- Sacramento, Calif. (source)
When I moved to Washington, DC in 2004 I quickly noticed how healthy the city was. The city was full of beautiful trails, like the WO&D trail, 4 mile run, and Capital Crescent trail, which citizens took full advantage of. Friends were invested in cycling, running, yoga, crossfit, frisbee golf, and NAKID kickball, all of which were new to me.
The fitness lifestyle of those living in DC was the polar opposite of what I had lived in San Antonio, Texas. I can’t even tell you were a trail exists in San Antonio, aside from the sidewalk along the Riverwalk. This is not to say that San Antonio doesn’t have citizens looking to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s more that the city doesn’t scream fitness and healthy living.
When I lived in Texas, social gatherings were centered around food. Mexican food, Texas BBQ, 24 hour fast food, and gallons of sweet tea. I was by no means happy with my body weight when I lived in Texas, but the city I lived in did not support my desire to lose weight. Washington, DC on the other hand motivates me to lose weight, to be healthy, and to try new fitness programs. Instead of meeting up with friends at 10AM for breakfast tacos I am meeting up with friends at 7AM to go for a run and follow it up with an iced coffee.
You can also visually see the difference between Washington, DC’s citizens and those in San Antonio and even Las Vegas. I was shocked when I arrived in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and to see vast amount of overweight people living in the city. I had forgotten how fit DC was compared to other US cities. It’s easy to compare myself to others in DC, as it is a very fit city, but I have to remember where I have come from and how much weight I have lost already. I grew up in a city where obesity was acceptable and a part of the culture.
Now I will say that I often see the negative effects of living in a healthy city. Yesterday morning in spin class there were 2 women who could not have weighed more than 100 pounds. They were so incredibly skinny and struggled to keep up with the instructor. There is also another woman I see at the gym every morning, who works out on the elliptical for hours at a time. One morning I arrived and she had 92 minutes clocked on the machine and continued to work out for the 40 minutes I was on the machine. It makes me sad to see these women who feel the need to lose that much weight or who work to maintain such a low weight.
I have learned that living in a city that embarrasses fitness is extremely important to me, but I also want to be as healthy as possible in my quest to be fit. It is tough to live a lifestyle that isn’t openly accepted by those around you, as it takes a lot of willpower to go against the norm, so I commend those who live in cities like San Antonio and live a healthy lifestyle!