Do you work out like a madman, eat healthy and still find yourself feeling unhealthy? It could be that you are just not living in a very healthy city. On the other hand, there are people who just seem to be healthy by nature and living in one of North America’s healthiest cities may be the reason. The city you live in may say a lot about your health and fitness lifestyle and may greatly affect your fitness future so read on to see why your city makes the cut.
Healthy Cities in North America
This information is based on the first ever Healthiest Cities Study conducted by Sperling’s Best Places. In figuring out the healthiest cities in North America, Sperling took several factors into account such as: nutrition (including BMI Index, alcohol consumption, fast food outlets); mental wellness (including cost of living, sleep problems, stress index); physical activity (including exercise levels, number of health clubs, recreational expenditures); lifestyle pursuits (including hours of work per week, bicycling expenditures, vacation days); and health status (including teeth cleaning visits, smoking, physicians per capita).
It is probably not surprising to find that of the Top 10 Healthiest Cities in America, five of the ten are located in California. California is blessed with an excellent climate which encourages people to get outside, and their obsession with beauty and thinness is also another factor which also persuades people to get moving in order to stay young, slim and beautiful.
Washington DC made the second spot on the list, rating high in mental health wellness and diet. Surprisingly, San Francisco, known for its laid back atmosphere (compared to other California cities such as Los Angeles), placed third despite its low standing in the mental health wellness category.
Unhealthy Cities in North America
In the same study, New Orleans placed last on the list of healthiest cities, making it the unhealthiest city in America. Other cities that ranked in the last ten spots on the list include Detroit, New York, San Antonio and perhaps surprisingly, Orlando, Florida. Most people associate Florida with sunshine, oranges, healthy citizens and retirees. And this is probably not wrong – Orlando ranked relatively high in the lifestyle category, but did not do well in the mental wellness or health category (perhaps because of the large number of retirees who may be suffering from diseases such as diabetes and arthritis).
Now that you know the scoop on some of the healthiest and unhealthiest cities in America, are you one of those people who would consider relocating in order to find a “better” and healthier city to live in? Are you nomadic by nature and would consider moving to a different city based on its score in this study? You are not alone. Lots of North Americans relocate regularly to warmer climates, a move which usually involves moving from central or eastern cities to west coast cities where the weather is warmer and there are more opportunities to be physically active outside.
But if moving seems rather extreme, consider making other changes in your life in order to feel as though you are living in one of the healthiest cities in America. Like the study, take note of some factors in your life and then determine what changes you need to make in order to have a healthier overall life:
Mental Wellness – Are you suffering from high levels of stress? Does your job or family life demand more from you than you can give without suffering mentally? High stress levels often translates into other problems such as sleep disorders and depression, so it’s very important to pay attention to your mental health as well as your physical health.
Nutrition – This is much easier to change than the factors contributing to any mental health problems. Change your eating habits – stop ordering pizza and make a large salad for dinner instead. Too busy after work to go grocery shopping? Do it on the weekend when you have a few extra hours and then plan your meals for the week so that you don’t have to go to a fast-food outlet on the way home from the office. Also pay attention to how much alcohol you consume – beer has loads of empty calories that you don’t need!
Physical Activity – Finding time to be physically active is one of the many setbacks people encounter when trying to improve their health. Remember, you don’t need to buy an expensive gym pass in order to be physically active. Take a 30-minute walk outside every day and you will be amazed at how great you feel in a few weeks. Walking is one of the best physical activities that you can do to improve your health. And if you aren’t blessed with a California climate, walk indoors. Mall-walkers are people that head to their local mall, when the weather’s bad, and simply walk laps around the mall. It’s a great way to get your daily walk in when the weather is not cooperating.
Lifestyle Pursuits – Europeans, on average, get a minimum of 5 weeks of vacation time each year. Compared to the measly 2-3 weeks that North Americans receive, is it any wonder that Europeans do not envy our lifestyles? It’s common for North Americans to work 60 hours or more each week, leaving little time for healthy pursuits. Plus, there are thousands of people who do not take their allotted vacation time each year, a sure way to take off years of your life. An easy way to improve your lifestyle is to simply take the full 2-3 weeks that you are allowed and make the most of them.
Health Status – There are some features of your health that you can’t do much about. If your genes have a propensity to heart disease, you may not be able to stop that from happening. However, there’s a lot you can do to improve your overall health status, regardless of genetics. For example, get your teeth cleaned regularly and have an annual check-up with your doctor to prevent unwanted health problems.
As you can see, you don’t need to live in one of America’s healthiest cities in order to be healthy. There’s a lot you can do to improve your health and fitness even if you are stuck living in San Antonio, Texas! Put down that steak, cowboy, and choose a salad instead!