The nation’s fittest city just happens to be the nation’s capital, according to the American Fitness Index. There are lots of pedestrian-friendly opportunities, but if you want to take your fit travel beyond walking, here’s a guide to getting your sweat on when visiting the other Washington.
Put the Pedal to the Metal
Looking to ride in short increments of less than 30 minutes? Capital Bikeshare has stations all over town for you to grab and go. A 24-hour pass costs $28. For something more structured, take a tour with Bike and Roll, which also offers rentals if you want to do your own thing (a cool self-guided option is biking to Mount Vernon). Get a good overview of the city with the Capital Sites Bike Tour, which pedals past the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, Smithsonian Institution, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument, and more in about eight miles. A night version is available for a different perspective.
Combine two fitness activities with Yoga Hikes DC, which pairs the cardio of hiking with the strength building of yoga. Each session is about 90 minutes long, with three 15-minute stops for yoga. Mix it up indoors at Sculpt DC on F Street, a yoga and cycling studio that also offers barre, yogalates, and other creative classes. For a more traditional yoga experience, Yoga Del Sol is set in a beautiful brick building in Georgetown.
Lace Up Your Running Shoes
With 2.5 miles of sidewalks, the National Mall provides a running route you won’t experience anywhere else (it’s not every day you jog past the Lincoln Memorial). More history awaits along the towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, where you can take a break from running with a mule-drawn boat ride. Also starting in Georgetown, the Capital Crescent Trail follows the abandoned railbed of the 11-mile Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad, stretching to Bethesda. If you really want to get some miles in, start training for the Marine Corps Marathon, this year on Oct. 30. Nicknamed the People’s Marathon, it’s the fourth largest in the country. (Can you beat Oprah? She finished in 4:29 on her 40th birthday.)
On the Water
Right in Georgetown, the Key Bridge Boathouse offers canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards to rent for floating down the Potomac River. There are also a variety of classes, including SUP Fitness, Sunrise Yoga on the Dock, and Kayak Immersion. Farther down the river, take it up a notch with Potomac Paddlesports, which leads four-hour guided whitewater rafting trips down the Class II/III section of Mather Gorge.
Hit the Gym
Bellevue Club membership entitles you to guest privileges at clubs all over the country and world, including the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. The fitness facilities feature cardiovascular machines, free weights, and resistance machines, along with squash and racquetball courts.
The Fittest Cities in the United States
For the second year in a row, Washington, D.C., came out on top in the rankings—provided by the American Fitness Index from the American College of Sports Medicine—of the country’s fittest cities. The rankings look at factors such as preventive behaviors for health, levels of chronic disease conditions, and environmental and community resources and policies that support physical activity. The top 10 metropolitan areas were
- Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington
- San Diego/Carlsbad
- San Francisco/Oakland
- San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara
If you go...
Army and Navy Club
Bike and Roll
Capital Crescent Trail
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal
Key Bridge Boathouse
Marine Corps Marathon
Yoga Del Sol
Yoga Hikes DC