Philadelphia Wellness Guide: Healthy Eating, Exercise Options and More

March 26, 2020
Jason Fried

Staying (or Getting) Fit in Philly

Rocky steps Philadelphia
Get moving in Philly by running the iconic Rocky steps | Photo by Urban Adventures

When locals want to get in a good run or jog, they head to the beautiful green oasis that is Fairmount Park. As the largest municipal park in the nation, there’s plenty of room for trail running, organized Ultimate frisbee, off-road cycling, or deep-woods hiking.

A favorite park path of our Urban Adventures Philadelphia team is Boxer’s Trail. The trail’s namesake refers to Muhammad Ali, who would purportedly run the trail to seek out his opponent Joe Frazier. To this day boxers continue to take advantage of this route’s steep inclines for training. In total, the 5-kilomtere trail branches into two different directions, one wooded and one not.

For those looking for a less taxing workout, the Trolley Trail follows the path of the East Fairmount Park sightseeing trolley, which operated from 1896 to 1946. As of 2019, you can breathe deep and enjoy the scenery of the 1.5-mile stretch, and then revisit in the next few years as the Fairmount Park Conservancy works to complete the entire 5-mile trail.

Stemming from the southerly tip of the park is the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, where you’ll find visitors and locals alike running up the museum steps, recreating the famous scene from Rocky. In November, visitors can join the thousands from around the globe participating in the official Rocky Run Italian Stallion Challenge. Later the same month, runners return to challenge themselves on either the 8K, 13.1-Mile, or 26.2-Mile Philadelphia Marathon.

With leg-day out of the way, you can head to our honorable mention: Bartram’s Garden. Besides its underrated fame as the home and gardens of America’s first horticulturist, the garden offers kayaking on certain days — sometimes free — between April and October.

Mind, Body & Soul

Morris Arboretum
Find some peace of mind at Philly's scenic Morris Arboretum | Photo via Pixabay

For our visitors looking for less-intense activities, Philadelphia has plenty of spaces, indoors and out, to take a break, relax, and get some peace of mind.

While free yoga classes have taken off in many cities, Philadelphia has some of the most beautiful places to stretch and start the day anew. Imagine yourself on your mat, watching the sun rising over the water along the Delaware at Race Street Pier, or, making its way above the city’s skyline, nine stories up on the Cira Green rooftop.

Being a historical city — something about the Declaration and Constitution being signed here, among a few other things — Philadelphians enjoy spending their sunny days out with the dead. Along the west bank of the Schuylkill River sits a gorgeously maintained cemetery and arboretum, Andrew Hamilton’s The Woodlands (note: Andrew, not Alexander!). Throughout the warmer months, “Grave Gardeners” tend to cradle graves, plots with bed depressions in which specific Victorian-era plants are installed and cared for by volunteers.

If graveyard strolls and digging in the dirt aren’t your mode of relaxation, a stroll through the flowers is certain to get you your feng shui fix. Relax and (literally) smell the roses, magnolias, and magnificent pines at Longwood Gardens, Chanticleer pleasure gardens, or Morris Arboretum.

For those who like to unwind listening to music, the Curtis Institute of Music features programs all year long, as well as free student recital performances offered at certain times of the year. Other honorable musical mentions include the electrifying noontime organ playing at Macy’s (originally Wanamaker’s department store — the organ is the largest playable pipe organ in the world, quite something to hear someone playing reverberant Wagner live while shoe shopping) and orchestra performances at the beautiful Kimmel Center.

Heathy Eating

Campo's Deli Philadelphia
You can enjoy a vegan cheesesteak at Campo's Deli | Photo by Campo's Deli

You are what you eat, and you can definitely eat well in Philadelphia. For affordable fruit and vegetables, many locals can knock out a morning of grocery shopping at the century-old Italian Market, where vendors man their stalls until they’ve sold off most or all of their produce: from blueberries and apples to collard greens and kale (and where you can do a tour with us!). Alternatively, if you’re staying downtown, the equally historic Reading Terminal Market is a must-do for healthy and eclectic options. But since the aim here is to be well and happy, we wouldn’t blame you for that glazed donut from Beiler’s Bakery…

And just where do you get that vegan (and/or gluten-free!) cheesesteak? Try out Campo’s, which uses local Italian Market-based business Taffet’s Bakery for its celiac-friendly bread and soy-based product for its meat substitute.

Honorable mentions on our favorite places to indulge but not feel the after-guilt include plant-based and compostable-package-friendly HipCityVeg; nutrition-and mood-minded Sip-N-Glo; and Riverwards Produce, a locally sourced produce and product market in one of Philly’s trendiest neighborhoods.

From outdoor and indoor escapes to dining healthy, Philly’s got you covered for feeling your best while visiting our incredibly diverse city.

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