Not only is it a full-body workout and a little-equipment-required way to move, running can also be a way to explore a new city, become engaged with a community of like-minded athletes, and can give you that ever-elusive “runner’s high” we’re all looking for. And no matter where you live in the United States, finding a route and hitting the trail is doable, but there are some cities that really hit it out of the ballpark when it comes to accessibility for runners.
For the third year in a row, SmartAsset has ranked the top cities in the U.S. for running (they looked at 98 cities in total), and determined the best ones for runners based on eight criteria: how many races the city had per 10,000 residents, how walkable the city is, how many people walk to work, pedestrian and walker safety, the cost of housing compared to income, the number of gyms per 10,000 residents, how much of the city is comprised of parks, and finally, how many residents have access to those parks.
And when all of those factors were considered, most of the cities that topped last year’s list returned as winners this year. Sorry to say it, New York and Los Angeles residents, those hometowns did not crack the top 10.
Here, in order, are the best cities for runners:
1. Arlington, VA
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Washington, DC
4. Madison, WI
5. Minneapolis, MN
6. Seattle, WA
7. Pittsburg, PA
8. Boston, MA
9. St. Paul, MN
10. Lincoln, NE
The most runner-friendly city, Arlington, VA, earned the top spot thanks to its number of races — it has the most races per 10,000 residents than any other ranked city — and its accessibility to parks, which means that those runners who are gearing up and training for an upcoming race have plenty of routes to run.
Most notably, SmartAsset noted, was the difference in access between the cities which ranked in the top 10 and the ones that made up the bottom 10. For the most successful running cities, it was all about accessibility. Having access to parks with just a 10-minute walk and having pedestrian-and walking-friendly roads was the winning ticket for the top cities.
So if you’re really trying to take advantage of a running routine — after all, just one hour of running can add seven to your life — a little change of location might be the answer.