A coveted blend of accessible outdoor activities and big-city amenities sends Seattle straight to the top of the heap of the healthiest cities in America. The largest metropolitan area in Washington state isn’t known as the Emerald City for nothing. Seattle’s dense cluster of shimmering skyscrapers rises from a blue-green landscape of forested mountains, natural lakes, a sparkling bay and miles of oceanfront. Seattle, along with Portland, Ore., has always been a haven for outdoorsy urbanites who can’t live without their mountain bike and camping equipment. Mount Rainier National Park, just a three-hour-drive from the city, entices residents with clean air, hiking trails and camping grounds.
The city’s consistently low smoking and heart-disease rates speak to Seattleites’ penchant for healthy living. Known in the medical world as being on the forefront of pre-hospital medical care, Seattle has always prided itself on higher cardiac arrest survival rates. Seattle also has a good mix of tertiary care medical centers and primary care providers.
Boston, on the other hand, is well known for its academic medical institutions. Harvard, Tufts and Boston University have each been important sources of top-notch medical research and cutting-edge technology throughout our nation’s history. Boston has the highest number of primary care providers per capita of any of the cities on our list. A compact urban center with good public transportation, downtown also offers many of its residents a car-free commute and access to ample outdoor spaces.
Boston’s low obesity rate speaks to a high concentration of healthy eaters. Perhaps they’re drawn to the city’s numerous farmers markets — Boston has about 28 farmers markets per million residents, according to the ACSM. Asthma is, however, a persistent problem, likely because of the Eastern Seaboard’s population density and heavy industry.