Inactive City

Survival of the fattest? Houston is 10th worst city in the nation for an active lifestyle

Survival of the fattest? Houston is 10th worst for active lifestyles

Campion Trails in Irving
Texas ranks worst overall for those living an active lifestyle, and Houston alone came in as the 10th lowest. Photo by Jonathan Guzman

Several times Houston has earned the dubious distinction as America's Fattest City. Now we know the reason why: WalletHub recently named the Bayou City as the 10th worst city in the nation for living an active lifestyle. 

In terms of Houston's ratings in each category, according to the study of 100 cities, results were definitely not great. The only category where the city came in better than No. 30 was parkland acres per capita, where the Bayou City was ranked No. 28 (in categories, No 1 is considered best and 100 is worst). In one semi-positive note, the city's walkability score was placed at No. 38, which is a bit of a surprise given the car-centric nature of residents.

 The only category where the city came in better than No. 30 was parkland acres per capita. 

With No. 50 considered to be "average," the city fared middling or worse in terms of per capita rankings of the number of sports clubs (No. 42), basketball hoops (No. 50), swimming pools (No. 53), fitness centers (No. 57) and public golf courses (No. 63).

Houston performed poorly in other categories, including per capita numbers of baseball fields (No. 70), the average monthly fee at a fitness club (No. 76) and the percentage of people who participate in any sort of physical activity (an embarrassing No. 85).

But it could have been worse. At No. 91 out of 100 U.S. cities, Houston ranked above four other Texas locales, including Irving (No. 92), Fort Worth (No. 93), Arlington (No. 97) and Laredo (No. 100). 

The study found that the Lone Star State is the worst in America for an active lifestyle, with five Texas cities in the bottom 10. Besides Austin (No. 28) and Plano (No. 30), none of the 13 Texas cities on the list placed higher than Lubbock at No. 72, with Dallas at No. 80, Corpus Christi at No. 88, El Paso at No. 89 and San Antonio at No. 90. 

For the list, WalletHub examined 25 metrics across two categories: budget and participation, and sports facilities and outdoor environment. The goal of the study was to determine how well a city accommodates or encourages an active lifestyle.

In terms of budget and participation, WalletHub looked at a city’s average cost for things like a monthly gym membership, renting a tennis court for an hour and playing a round of golf, as well as the percentage of people who participate in any kind of physical activity. For sports facilities and outdoor environment, researchers considered per capita measurements for the number of swimming pools, basketball hoops, tennis courts, baseball fields, park acreage and playgrounds, as well as a city’s walkability score.

The five best cities for people living active lifestyles are Omaha, Neb., Portland, Ore., Pittsburgh, Reno, and Orlando.

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CultureMap Dallas writer Jonathan Rienstra contributed to this article.

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