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Fittest Cities in America: Raleigh

See what makes Raleigh one of the best cities for fitness and health in the country, and discover the fun activities it has to offer.

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Active Men And Women Biking By The Water
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A Southern city on the rise, Raleigh’s been on a growth spurt in the past decade. Close to top-notch universities and anchored by Research Triangle Park (a community of 200-plus companies with more than 50,000 employees), Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, features winter temps averaging 57°F and a cold season that comes late and departs fairly early.

Locals take advantage of the mostly mild weather by visiting one of the 220 parks (there’s a total of more than 9,500 acres of public green space); the Capital Area Greenway covers more than 100 miles throughout the city; and BikeRaleigh, a city cycling advocacy program, has helped grow the amount of local bike trails.

The growth in the past few years has skewed techie, as younger millennials who seek out healthy, active, and fit lifestyles flock to jobs in the area. Twenty percent of the population is between the ages of 25 and 34, which has helped turn the downtown into a vibrant scene.

SEE ALSO: Fittest Cities In America: San Francisco

Fitness options are booming. There are at least 15 CrossFit boxes in the area, including the popular Raleigh CrossFit and CrossFit Invoke (run by celeb trainer Christmas Abbott). Or check out Capital Strength & Conditioning and CORE Fitness Studio, dedicated to one-on-one or group weight training. Plus, you’ll find plenty of chain gyms and boutique fitness spots, from Blaze Fit Studio to Barre Up!, and yoga and Pilates studios.

Most restaurants religiously source their cuisine from surrounding farms. Vegetarians and vegans can get a great meal at restaurants like longtime staple Irregardless Café, open since 1975, and downtown haunt the Remedy Diner. For home cooks, the State Farmers Market—located to the south of the city—is open all year and features 30,000-square-feet of space.

Fit things to do in: Raleigh

  1. Head out on a 5.4-mile run through trees and hilly terrain at Umstead Park.
  2. Ride the Neuse River Trail 33 miles from the Falls Lake Dam to the Wake County line and back; the 10-foot-wide asphalt path gives you plenty of room. 
  3. Step into the ring at Cirque de Vol and take an aerial boot camp, or try your hand at aerial yoga classes.
  4. Try out MADbolic Fitness (short for “momentum,” “anaerobic,” and “durability”) for an instructor-led, timed session through five stimulating stations.
  5. Hone your technique and boost your skills on the water by joining the Raleigh Rowing Center at Lake Wheeler and taking its Learn to Row class.
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