The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many people's sense of well-being, but some cities have weathered the wellness challenges of the public health crisis by maintaining, or even increasing, their respective commitments to fitness and self-care.
In its annual Wellness Index, fitness technology platform Mindbody ranked the 50 largest U.S. cities by population to find the healthiest in America, places whose residents had the highest levels of engagement in various wellness spheres. Mindbody took into account factors including how much residents drank, smoked and exercised, stress levels, connections to family and community and spiritual fulfillment.
Top 10 rankings
For the third year in a row, Miami ranked highest in the Mindbody Wellness Index. The Florida city stands out as the locale with the highest number of residents who exercise at least once a week (over 80%) and exercise a total of 90 minutes or more per week (over 56%). Miami residents also report having the lowest levels of stress, highest levels of rest and the highest number of residents who feel connected to their community.
According to Mindbody's findings, these are the top 10 healthiest cities in America:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco
- San Jose, Calif.
- Austin, Texas
- Raleigh, N.C.
On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-ranked cities were Tulsa, Okla. (No. 50); Fresno, Calif. (No. 49); and Indianapolis, Ind. (No. 48). Mindbody didn't provide further context on health behaviors in these cities — however, economic factors may have an impact on wellness. According to the most recent Census data, these three cities have median household incomes and poverty rates that are lower and higher, respectively, than national statistics. In particular, Tulsa has a notably high rate of residents under age 65 who don't have health insurance (19.0% versus 10.2% for the U.S. overall).
Other health trends
California is a standout when it comes to wellness, with four out of the 10 healthiest cities located there. Here's a further look at how health behaviors measure up in the Golden State:
- San Jose, Calif., has the highest number of non-smokers in the U.S., followed by Los Angeles
- San Diego has the highest percentage of people with a "normal" body mass index (neither over nor underweight, per CDC guidelines), and the highest percentage of people who find time for play and fun (nearly 70%)
- The top 25 healthiest cities in the U.S. include Long Beach, Calif. (No. 11), Oakland, Calif. (No. 23) and Sacramento, Calif. (No. 25)
But although San Francisco is ranked the sixth healthiest city in the U.S. it's also home to the highest number of residents who say they drink excessively.
Still, like San Franciscans (and others), many Americans report an increase in both good and bad health behaviors as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In a 2021 survey from CVS Health, respondents reported a spike in their alcohol consumption (20%), as well as use of nicotine (21%) and opioids (10%) — while, simultaneously, 77% reported that they were paying more attention to their health during the pandemic.
Methodology: Mindbody surveyed 16,000 adults in the 50 most populated U.S. cities and ranked them based on several factors, such as workout habits, commitment to sufficient sleep, stress levels, connection to community and spirituality, among other wellness behaviors and attitudes amid a pandemic.