Let’s debunk one myth right away: there is no fountain of youth. You cannot drink your way to good health, or to a longer life, despite what you may think you know about eight (or is it six) eight-ounce glasses of water a day, or a glass of wine (said to decrease risks of heart attack), not to mention stresses of the day.
How you live and where you live play as important a role in your overall health and well-being as does the food you eat, drinks you drink and amount of exercise you get each day and every week. If you want to live longer, feel better and enjoy life more, then think about the decisions you make that impact your overall health. Change what isn’t working, which can be as simple as joining a gym or maybe as complex as moving to another city.
No matter how you define health, someone, somewhere, is doing it better than you are. Here are six of the healthiest cities in the world, where healthy living isn’t a choice but a lifestyle. The secret to living longer is no secret. Eating well, exercise and enough sleep are essential. One of the cities has cracked that code. Can you guess which one?
Diet is key to health in Okinawa. Organic, local produce is prized over meat. Exercise is also part of a citizen’s life, from tai chi and martial arts to old-fashioned walking. Their daily routines also include a good night’s sleep. Eating well. Exercise. Enough sleep. The three Es of healthy living in Okinawa are things we all know to be true, and yet find difficult to replicate.
Boasting low pollution rates, affordable and often free health care, and walking and hiking trails, Auckland citizens find healthy living less a choice and more a part of life. Due to the city’s proximity to the ocean, fresh seafood is available as is organically grown fruits and vegetables.
Switzerland may finance universal health care for its citizens, but it also has a high level of air pollution. So why does it make the cut? Much of the city is comprised of gardens and parks with walking and biking trails, but the main reason is the importance sports has in Switzerland. Whether it’s playing or enjoying a game, there is much in Zurich for sports enthusiasts to do, and several international sports federations are based in Zurich.
It’s easy to get lost, so be sure to pack a map (and enough food and water).
Low pollution rates. Low infant mortality rates. An average life expectancy of about 80 years. Helsinki may not be the city that comes to mind when you think of health places, but it is healthy, as are the citizens. About one-third of the city is comprised of park area, or is part of a central park (which is more forest than park) and this area includes several nature reserves.
Due to Canada’s universal health care system, Canadian cities are often touted as some of the healthiest, but health care is not the only way to rate a city’s health. Take Toronto, which is home to a thriving arts scene, a cultural epicenter and nearby hiking trails and forest walks.
Walk (and bike) this way.
Sorry, America. Only one city comes close to epitomizing health and wellbeing. Despite, or maybe because of, the yearly rainfall in this Northwestern United States state, Portland is often is listed as one of the healthiest cities in America and in the world. Maybe it’s the nearly 300 miles of bike paths, 227 parks, about 150 miles of hiking trails and contained urban sprawl that makes biking to work possible and preferable. Health and fitness is to Portland what coffee is to Seattle.
How do you define health? Is health not needing to see your doctor, or maybe health is having insurance in case you need to see the MD. Maybe health is that gym membership you use, or the vegetable garden in your backyard. Maybe health is the 10-year anniversary of the last cigarette you smoked or the number of cases of communicable diseases identified in your city each year. However you define it, with practice and effort, you can turn healthy living into a lifestyle no matter where you live.