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Salt Lake City ranked the 14th healthiest major city in America by NerdWallet

Published: Thursday, May 23 2013 10:40 a.m. MDT

Jen Meade and Teddy Anderson pause while hiking the Mount Olympus trail in Salt Lake County  Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Jen Meade and Teddy Anderson pause while hiking the Mount Olympus trail in Salt Lake County Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Salt Lake City's easy access to nature and its fit residents were factors into it being named one of the healthiest cities in America.

According to a recent report by NerdWallet, Salt Lake City's fit, insured residents who frequent ski resorts, hiking trails and fishing spots all contributed to the city ranking 14th out of 50 major cities that were analyzed.

The study came to its conclusions by analyzing four sources of information: the American Fitness Index, health insurance coverage, physicians per 100,000 residents from the U.S. Census, and the number of high particle pollution days per year from the American Lung Association's 2012 State of the Air report.

Salt Lake City placed 13th on the American Fitness Index with a score of 59.8, with Minneapolis talking first in the country. Salt Lake lacked significantly in park-related expenditures per capita, spending only $45 with a national target goal of $101.80. Only 83.1 percent have health insurance, compared to the target goal of 91.2 percent. The city was also lacking in primary health care providers per 100,000 with only 84.3 doctors, compared to the target 105.6.

Tom Swanson bikes on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Tom Swanson bikes on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake City. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Salt Lake City exceeded the target goal significantly in dog parks per 100,000, golf courses per 100,000 and tennis courts per 100,000 by 2.4 percent, 4.1 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

The city was commended for having residents that were at least moderately physically active, for having a lower percentage of current smokers, for having a lower death rate for cardiovascular disease, and for having a higher percentage of residents who bike or walk to work.

The area where Salt Lake City took a blow was in air quality. According to the American Lung Association, Salt Lake County was awarded an F in both in ozone quality and 24-hour particle pollution. It received a pass in annual particle pollution.

Boston topped the list of healthiest metro areas, in part due to its high volume of runners. It also has a health insurance policy that requires each resident to obtain health insurance and provides free health insurance to low-income individuals. There are 591 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents in the city, and the city boasts federally funded programs like the Boston Healthy Start Initiative and Northeastern University's Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures program, which supports health-promoting environments for children.

Diosa Deagostine leads a group in an exercise class called Latin Jam at the SportsPlex Gym in Kaysville Thursday September 13, 2012. (Brian Nicholson) Diosa Deagostine leads a group in an exercise class called Latin Jam at the SportsPlex Gym in Kaysville Thursday September 13, 2012. (Brian Nicholson)

Other cities on the healthiest list included: Seattle, Portland, Ore., Minneapolis, Hartford, Conn., San Francisco, Washington, D.C., San Jose, Calif., Providence, R.I., Sacramento, Calif., Baltimore, Virginia Beach, Va., and Buffalo, N.Y.

Riverside, Calif., Houston, and Los Angeles were the top three unhealthiest cities, according to the study.

EMAIL: crenouard@deseretnews.com

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