Access to green spaces, sidewalks and a good public transport system are the main factors to a healthier city
A new survey was conducted to find where the happiest and healthiest residents in the U.S. lived and the results were somewhat surprising.
The places that came out on top weren’t smaller towns and cities but some of the biggest cities there are. The top five include Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco with Boston heading the field.
Gallup and Healthways, who both conducted the report using data from 149,938 phone interviews and publicly available information, say that despite the idea that living in larger cities is perceived as unhealthy, the opposite is in fact true with lower rates of health-threatening diseases and higher rates of good mental health.
“Residents in these top five communities have, on average, significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression compared with those in the five lowest-ranked active living communities,” stated Gallup and Healthways in a statement.
The two organizations focused mainly on walking ability, park areas, biking accessibility and public transport. All the cities in the top five had access to large green spaces which promote areas to exercise and relaxation, more bike lanes, healthy eating rates and much lower stress levels than its smaller counterparts. Government guidelines such as smoking bans have attributed to a massive decline in tobacco consumption and healthier choices of food such as fruit and vegetables went up.
The report states that the introduction of more bike lanes has made a huge impact in the exercise habits of the five top cities: “bike and park scores have stronger correlations with lower obesity, diabetes, and blood pressure.” While a better public transport infrastructure was correlated with “lower daily physical pain.”
The lowest scoring cities were Tulsa, Durham in North Carolina, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne.
It’s recommended that Americans get at least 60 minutes of brisk exercise a day which can be difficult without accessible green spaces and sidewalks to encourage people.