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continued...

More than half of the residents in the Twin Cities say they're at least moderately physically active. That may be because they have more playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, baseball diamonds and dog parks, per capita, than other cities. They're also more likely to take public transportation or to bike or walk to work, according to the report.

Mayor Rybak credits the city's founding fathers for its wealth of public spaces. "The founders made sure every inch of parkland was open to everyone. Unlike a lot of places where there's a beautiful lake and homes are built right onto the water, we have bike and walking trails in public realm dedicated along all of them," he said.

And they've got a mayor who is constantly looking for new ways to use all that public space. Rybak started a cross-country ski festival called the City of Lakes Loppet that takes over the city streets every winter.

Residents who observed the mayor's "Ski-to-Work Day" -- they had to ski at least three miles to work -- got a free entry to the city's new Tri-Loppet, a summertime event that will have residents canoeing, mountain biking and running around the city.

And they're planning a new two-block park called The Yard, which will connect the city's new football stadium to its downtown.

"And this is going to be a place we envision skate parks. And maybe taking all the snow we plow in the winter and creating huge hills to snowboard. The idea isn't just to have a passive park, but an active place," Rybak said.

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