10 fittest and 10 fattest cities in America

Plus, tips from experts on ways to drop those excess pounds
© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health

Our nation’s weight problem seems far from over, according to the newly released 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The national obesity average is 26.2 percent, with nearly 3 million more obese adults today than there were at the beginning of 2008. Obesity rates jumped from 25 percent in 2008 to 26.8 percent in early 2009 and have remained there since. On the upside, some cities such as Boulder, Colo., manage to beat the odds. Others, however, still struggle.

Here we take a look at the top fittest metropolitan areas in America and the most obese, including tips from experts on ways to drop those excess pounds.

-- Linda Melone, MSN Healthy Living

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Fittest place in America: Boulder, Colo.

12.5 percent of residents are obese

It’s no mystery why Boulder ranks as the fittest city overall. Among 14 similar cities, it ranks highest in the number of people who walk to work and second among those who bike. In fact, biking is so highly regarded that the snowplows often clear the Boulder Creek bike path before they plow the streets.

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Second fittest metro area: Charlottesville, Va.

14.3 percent of residents are obese  

Outdoor activities make exercise fun in Charlottesville. Popular sports include hiking, horseback riding and tubing, canoeing, rafting and other water sports. Residents enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing in winter.

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Third fittest metro area: Bellingham, Wash.

15.9 percent of residents are obese

An abundance of freshwater lakes, saltwater inlets and rivers and streams entice water-sports enthusiasts in Bellingham. Families enjoy kayaking and canoeing, and national forest and national park lands are popular with hikers, walkers and mountain climbers.  

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Fourth fittest metro area: Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo.

16.5 percent of residents are obese  

Located in the Rocky Mountain foothills, Fort Collins was named the best place in the country to live by Money Magazine. Fly fishing, golfing, white-water rafting, biking, hiking trails and winter activities offer many calorie-burning options.

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Fifth fittest metro area: Naples-Marco Island, Fla.

16.6 percent  of residents are obese

Near the Florida Everglades, Naples-Marco Island’s beaches, parks and tropical climate lend themselves to camping, canoeing, fishing and long nature walks. Simply walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes burns 180 calories, which makes it easy to maintain a healthy weight.

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Sixth fittest metro area: Denver-Aurora, Colo.

17.8 percent of residents are obese

Outdoor sports keep Aurora residents active. Home to the Aurora Sports Park, with its 23 full-size soccer fields and 12 baseball fields, the town is known as one of the top sports towns in the country.

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Seventh fittest metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.

18 percent of residents are obese

Numerous biking tours and bike rentals make cycling a popular activity in San Francisco. In addition to biking, residents of all fitness levels enjoy yoga, kayaking, rafting and many other outdoor sports.

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Eighth fittest metro area: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.

18.1 percent of residents are obese

This bike-friendly town calls itself a “veritable paradise for cycling,” with up to 100 miles of rolling terrain throughout its famous wine country. Biking at even a leisurely pace burns up to 400 calories an hour, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

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Ninth fittest metro area: Madison, Wis.

18.2 percent of residents are obese

Golf, tennis, sailing and swimming keep Madison residents in shape in warm months, while skiing, skating and other winter sports dominate in cold weather. Its more than 260 parks and beaches create a backdrop for many other activities as well.

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