Adventure aids in healthy living: meet NC’s cities with a thrill

Mens Health ranks the Most Adventurous Cities in America; Raleigh takes the No. 6 spot

The City of Raleigh. (NSJ Photo Staff)

KINSTON —— The rush of adrenaline, the thrill of suspense, the art of active living, the call of the outdoors; whatever your reason, thrill-seekers love an adventure. From whitewater rafting and ziplining to hiking and jet skiing, North Carolinians know there is plenty to do from the mountains to the coast. It’s our wild and adventurous cities that are gaining global recognition.

Men’s Health magazine, the go-to source for men seeking the latest and most credible information on health, fitness, style, nutrition, relationships, travel, gear, tech and finance, —knows outdoor exercise and activity contributes to one’s health and well-being.

“Besides getting a thrill and adrenaline rush out of adventurous activities, people have a variety of reasons for pursuing them,” said Paul Kita, senior editor of Men’s Health magazine. “We recently covered the Tuck Fest, three days of adventure games at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. We asked some of the competitors what adventure means to them. One said being outdoors is about getting dirty and having fun, while another told us that getting lost in the woods helps him feel more alive. Another shared that to pursue adventure is to pursue transformation, because with risk comes growth.”

Men’s Health’s team of researchers analyzed and ranked the 100 most populous cities in the United State to uncover the top places to experience the outdoors and partake in activities ranging from logrolling to snowboarding to motorcross to fishing. Men’s Health announced the results of its Metrogrades ranking of the Most Adventurous Cities in America and four cities in North Carolina made the list.

The state capital of Raleigh made the top 10, pulling in at No. 6, followed by Charlotte at No. 33, Greensboro at No. 81 and Winston-Salem at No. 89.

“Exercise is the most powerful healthy living tool you have in your fight against old age and disease,” said Kita. “It reduces stress, provides an overall sense of competence and accomplishment, and increases motivation to improve other behaviors. Regular physical activity cuts your risk of diabetes by a whopping 50 to 80 percent, too.”

Whatever your reason for an adventure, whether it’s for engaging with nature, subduing the aging process, building self-confidence or more, you are sure to find a spot in the Old North State that’s a perfect fit for you.

Taking a look at the capital city, Men’s Health has this to say about Raleigh’s ranking: “Residents of Raleigh have some of the more remarkable opportunities for adventure of any city on this list. Capital City BMX is a bicycle motocross track with multiple courses, ranging from 900 to 1,300 feet. If pedaling isn’t your thing, and you’d rather get around the old-fashioned way, Dead Broke Farm offers horseback riding on more than 10 miles of trails on its 110-acre farm.
“Or, keep your feet on the ground on the Neuse River Trail, a 27.5-mile paved pathway that winds along the scenic banks of the Neuse River. In all, Raleigh offers a system of trails that offers up more than 100 miles for running, walking and biking. The water isn’t just for show, either. Head to Lake Johnson for some canoeing or paddleboarding.”

As noted, Raleigh’s sister city of Charlotte is home to the U.S. National Whitewater Center where whitewater rafting gives the ultimate thrill. In addition, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department is home to 210 parks on 17,600 acres of parkland.

The Triad brings us Greensboro and Winston-Salem. All wheels are welcome in the heart of Greensboro where Latham Skate Park and Glenwood Skate Spot are popular destinations. There’s plenty of waterways for flat water paddling, and trails for hiking and running. Winston-Salem brings golf enthusiasts an array of courses to play, and the city is also home to Triad ECO Adventures which helps visitors with Segway rides and stand-up paddleboard lessons and tours.

To determine the rankings, Men’s Health studied the following criteria: percentage of people participating in various sports in the past 12 months; percentage of people meeting activity guidelines; percentage of people who engage in vigorous activity five or more days a week; ratio of parkland to city size; recreational business counts percentage; recreational household expenditure percentage; and recreational consumer price index.

Anchorage, Alaska debuted No. 1 on the list with resident bears, almost a million acres of parkland and a very high ratio of recreational businesses to total businesses. Austin, Texas, ranked No. 2, with 227 miles of trails and 20,714 acres of green space across 300 different parks. Madison, Wis., took the No. 3 spot — its residents’ overall activity levels rank high and the city touts the 3,359-acre Lake Monoma, surrounded by pristine biking and running trails.

Since its launch in 1988, Men’s Health has become the voice of health and wellness with a global audience topping 57 million. More information on the top 10 adventure listings can be found in the July/August issue of the magazine and at

In the meantime, it’s summer in North Carolina and the perfect time to head outdoors for exercise and discovery of the state from east to west.