Let’s Get Physical: Where are the Healthiest Cities to Live?
By Serena Norr
A wise person once said: “Your health is your wealth.” Although this can’t more true, living in major metropolitan area such as the great (and stressful) New York City makes it rather challenging to stay on top of the healthy game – both physically and mentally.
Regardless of what stressors plague their way into our lives, we try our best by eating well, exercising and staying mentally stimulated (oh, do we try!). But despite what we do, some geographic locations are prone to induce stress and affect our health more than others.
While some cities are major detriments to our health, there are others that actually encourage healthy living; ranging from those with numerous outdoor parks and facilities to those that focus on eating healthy from local resources. Centrum and Sperling’s Best Place recently uncovered the healthiest cities to live; ranking how they stack up in the categories of mental, lifestyle, activity, health and diet and how they contribute to ones overall well-being. From the looks of this survey , cities in California are leading the pack, with Indiana not doing so well—which oddly enough is one of the most affordable places on our buy vs. rent report . Check out what healthy spot would be ideal for your next relocation .
1. San Jose, California — As the third largest in California, San Jose is renowned for its spacious gardens and parks (Almaden Quicksilver County Park, Alum Rock Park and Kelly Park, to name a few), outdoor festivals and cultural attractions such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Museum of Innovation. Being the number one healthiest and cleanest cities, San Jose residents rank highest for health, diet and lifestyle. And its no wonder, since residents have access to numerous outdoor trails for walking, running, camping and mountain climbing, as well as other recreational sports that encourage exercising outside. With rents averaging $950-1,200, according to apartments.com and two-bedroom homes at $450,000, San Jose, California  is also an affordable moving  destination.
2. Washington, D.C. — As the nation’s capitol there is never short of something to do in Washington, D.C.  According the cities website-Washington.org, D.C. is the number one city for walking, which is a great way to discover the areas historic monuments and museums. Residents also rank the highest for mental health and diet, along with affordable living that features modern and historic neighborhoods. Homes average $330,000 and increasing in sales of 2.36 percent in March, 2010, according to ziprealty.com.
3. San Francisco, CA— On top of being number three on Sperling’s list, San Francisco, California  residents were recently surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation  for the state of their health and wellbeing. The results? 71 percent of residents reported being in excellent or good health. And it’s no wonder why with a city that encourages walking, biking and running up and down its uphill and windy streets. Activities don’t fall short here either with golf, trips to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Yerba Buena Gardens or simply taking in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rents range from $1,000-1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to apartments.com and homes average $799,000, according to zip realty.
4. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA— It’s not all rain and coffee (although this is part of the Seattle, Washington  experience) in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett areas of Washington. This healthy city is renowned for their outdoor activities— biking, fishing, running and exploring— that is also considered one of the cleanest cities to reside. Residents can also enjoy the Space Needle, visits to the Pike Place for fresh fish, local fruits and vegetables, walks to the waterfront and exploring the areas many zoos, sporting facilities and wildlife trails at the Northwest Trek.
5. Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT — This outdoor lover’s paradise is home to the historic temple square, national parks (The Bonneville Salt Flats, Kennecott Copper Mine and Miller Motorsports Park) and attractions such as The Utah Museum, the Historic Temple Square of Natural History and Great Salt Lake. A healthy culture, Salt Lake City is also all about outdoor recreation where residents can enjoy skiing, golfing, biking, hiking, camping and extreme sports such as scuba diving, rafting, paragliding and skydiving to keep you busy and very active. The average two-bedroom rental in Salt Lake City, Utah  is $804, according to mynewplace.com.
6. Oakland, California — Another California City-are we starting to see a trend? Oakland, California  ranks very high on the list for its healthy lifestyle choices and activities available to its residents. Visits to Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Preservation Park and local attractions (Chinatown, Oakland Museum of California and the Chabot Space and Science Center) are a part of life in Oakland; along with access to healthy dining options, farmer’s markets and walking that keep residents fit. Apartments average $895 for a two-bedroom place, according to mynewplace.com and homes averaging $895,000, according to zillow.com.
7. Sacramento, California — The state capital, Sacramento, California  ranked very well in the lifestyle, activity, health and diet categories, which is apparent by the areas attractions that includes historic buildings, museums, and recreational parks (Old Sacramento national and California state historic park). Residents can also take advantage of the areas natural surrounding area by biking, hiking, camping, golfing and partaking in numerous recreational sports throughout the year.
8. Orange County, California — Much as been chronicled about life in “The O.C” by reality shows, but little is discussed of the high quality of diet, lifestyle, activity and metal health in Orange County, California . With 42 miles of coastline, numerous beaches and recreational parks that include historic sites and open spaces, for biking, camping and hiking. Recreational activities such as surfing, running, tennis, volleyball, basketball and golf also keep residents of the O.C. healthy and active. All the healthy amenities are great, but real estate  in the area is a bit steep, averaging 1.5 million for homes, according to zillow.com.
9. Denver, Colorado — Residents of Denver, Colorado  have access to historic western and cultural attractions (Denver Art Museum and the Denver Zoo) and natural beauty to hike, raft, horseback ride and camp. The Mile High City also has affordable rentals  with $978 for a two-bedroom apartment, according to mynewplace.com.
10. Austin-San Marcos, Texas — Dubbed the “live music capitol of the world,” Austin, Texas  is also one of the healthiest cities for its high ranks in physical activity. The area also has the highest number of gyms and health clubs in the U.S, along with being a biker friendly area and one that is very eco-conscious, aptly named the “Greenest City in America,” by MSN. The city also has affordable apartments  with the average two-bedroom rental at $1,065, according to apartments.com.
And now for the low-ranking cities…
1. New Orleans, LA
2. San Antonio, TX
3. Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
4. Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH
5. Orlando, FL
6. Columbus, OH
7. Detroit, MI
8. New York, NY
9. Las Vegas, NV-AZ
10. Indianapolis, IN
Listing Courtesy of Sperling’s Best Places