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Most Heart Healthy Locales

Heart health is a major concern for many people. With daily reminders that our society has become sedentary, has a 40% obesity rate, and won’t live as long as baby boomers, there is plenty of reason to think about healthy living and your heart.

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Over 40 metropolitan locations were ranked for their fitness. Four scored below the target goal of 2.8% of the total population having chronic heart conditions.

  • Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, scored well on multiple indexes of community health. 73% of residents reported daily physical activity and 95% lived within a short walk to a park. For those wanting fresh produce, there are over 190 farmer’s markets in the DC area.
  • Sacramento, CA, or “Sactown” is referred to as a city built on gold. Built during the Gold Rush, it now boasts as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. With 4% of the population biking to work, 40% of the population consuming plenty of fruits and veggies and boundless outdoor activities, Sacramento is a great place to live an active lifestyle.
  • San Francisco, CA, is a bustling, vibrant city and a great place to be physically active. The city boasts a 17% obesity rate (less than half of the national average), a 2.6% coronary heart disease rate, and an 11% smoking rate. With such great stats, it’s high on the list of healthy places to live in the USA.
  • Denver, CO, fares very well per capita for the number of swimming pools, baseball diamonds and dog parks. Ranked number six for healthiest metropolitan areas, The Mile High City, is a mecca for outdoor activities. With over 84 miles of bike trails, natural waterways and an hour’s ride from the Rocky Mountains, it is easy to see why Denver residents are so healthy.

While rankings are important, there are certain similarities between all of these cities that one should consider when developing a healthy lifestyle.

  • Outdoor Activities: Being outside is just plain good for you. The human body craves Vitamin D and the most abundant source is the sun. Easy outdoor activities include taking daily walks, hiking or biking just to name a few. The sun increases serotonin uptake. This can improve your mood which can lead to increased energy and activity levels.
  • 30 Minutes of Daily Physical Activity: The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week. This is not about intensity level, they just want you to get up and move. Research shows that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, the no 1 and no. 5 killers in the USA.
  • Eating Well: Eating healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables is essential for heart health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is promoting the Choose My Plate initiative to ensure that every American has the tools to eat well and reduce the incidence of chronic disease. A simple diagram shows you how to fill your plate with fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
  • No Smoking: Over the past decade, we have learned more and more about the ill effects of smoking. It is recommended that smokers significantly reduce or discontinue their usage of tobacco products and young people avoid it all together. In the US, smoking is related to chronic illnesses including heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disorders, cancer and more.

If you live in the United States, you can take a cue from residents of cities with low rates of heart conditions. Enjoy an active lifestyle, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and avoid cigarette smoking and products. Reduce your risks of heart disease, obesity and a decreased lifespan.