The 15 Best Cities for Raising Active Kids

Image Source: Flicker/Sebastiaan ter Burg

Certain cities in this country are more conducive to raising active kids, you might be interested to know. I was, even though I don’t happen to live in one. Californians: rejoice! These are the top 15, according to BetterDoctor, which crunched the numbers for child population, playgrounds per capita, bikeability, and asthma rates, as well as school quality:

1. Madison, Wisconsin
2. Fremont, California
3. Chula Vista, California
4. Plano, Texas
5. Reno, Nevada
6. Aurora, Colorado
7. Sacramento, California
8. Lincoln, Nebraska
9. Virginia Beach, Virginia
10. Omaha, Nebraska
11. San Jose, California
12. Long Beach, California
13. Colorado Springs, Colorado
14. Austin, Texas
15. Raleigh, North Carolina

Oh, and the lowest-scoring of the 69 major cities ranked: Sorry, Philadelphia, Memphis, Wichita, Nashville, and Des Moines.

So there’s that. But then there’s the fact that Anyplace, USA, is conducive to raising active kids because it starts with how we parents promote fitness — and it can last a lifetime. Studies show, as the American Academy of Pediatrics notes, that lifestyles learned as children are a lot more likely to stick with a person into adulthood.

Some simple ways to encourage kids to be active:

Make activity tempting

We have a gigantic wicker basket of outdoor toys — including balls, a lacrosse stick, hula hoops, and baseball mitts – right by our back door, to encourage the kids to get out there.

Have a no-TV-on-weeknights rule

We get a bit slack about enforcing this in the dead of winter, but come the warmer weather months, it’s why you’ll find my kids playing outside in the early evening.

Take a family walk

“An evening walk or playtime just after dinner is a great way to burn off dinner energy, and it’s also great for bedtime routine,” notes blogger Devan McGuinness in 10 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Exercise More This Spring. Bonus points for quality family time. Bonus bonus points if you leave the smartphone at home.

Join in the fun and games

It’s inspiring for kids to see you active, too. (Mama see, mama do!) If you were in our neighborhood recently, you would have spotted me and my 19-week-pregnant belly attempting to skateboard as the kids cheered me on. OK, so mostly they laughed at me.

Get off the couch on rainy days and …

… do a few easy exercises with the kids. Blogger Kirsten Howerton is a fan of family squats. Her how-to: “Put your feet a shoulders’ width apart and do deep knee bends as if you’re sitting down on an invisible box. Put your arms out. Make sure your knees don’t extend past your toes.” (Read more of her suggestions here.)

Try some new twists on fave active toys

My kids have been loving two recent gifts: The Nerf Fire Vision Ignite Football, which glows in the dark, and a Twister Moves Skip-It (a built-in counter keeps track of skips).

Keep kids fueled with healthy snacks

They will not be able to resist media maven Ciaran Blumenfeld’s Happy Hobo Snack Sacks, little plastic bags filled with popcorn, cereal, fruit, and chocolate chips dangling off pretzel rod sticks. So good to go.

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