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AARP The Magazine Names the Top 10 Healthiest Places to Live in America

6. Boulder, Colorado: This home to more than 130 miles and 45,000 acres of open space and pristine wilderness at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains attracts environment and health-conscious residents; it is one of the nation’s healthiest cities with extremely low rates of smoking and obesity (BMI of 24.94).

7. Charlottesville, Virginia: The one-time home of Thomas Jefferson ranks in the top ten cities for family-practice doctors, oncologists and cardiologists; it ranks fourth among U.S. metropolitan areas in the number of physicians per capita.

8. Minneapolis–St. Paul, Minnesota: Residents rank among the top ten in the country for share of residents who exercise regularly; Minnesota is ranked the #1 state in the nation for the overall quality of its healthcare by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

9. San Francisco Bay Area, California: Residents are among the least likely to be overweight and smoke; last year, the city of San Francisco launched Healthy San Francisco, an initiative that offers free or subsidized health care to uninsured residents.

10. Naples–Marco Island, Florida: Residents received very high scores for regular exercise, healthy eating and not smoking; the area has one of the lowest cancer mortality rates in the country; Naples-Marco Island has the second most golf holes per capita in the country.

AARP The Magazine’s special report examines which cities excelled in key areas of longevity, vitality, and wellness. Ames, IA was the city with the longest life expectancy, 81.02 years, followed by Naples-Marco Island, FL with 80.97 years. Ames, IA, also topped the list of cities with the highest percentage of people able to afford healthcare, at 97.9% and Johnston, PA, was second on that list at 96.2%. In a key measure of health, average body mass index (BMI), Boulder, CO topped the list as the skinniest city, with a 24.94 BMI, followed by Santa Fe, NM, which had an average BMI of 25.50. Of cities with the greenest commuters, Ithaca, NY, was highest on the list with 16.88% of commuters biking or walking to work.

Full criteria included: Cardiac mortality rates (age-adjusted), prescriptions for control of hypertension, cholesterol (per capita), physician diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity (BMI), smoking cigarettes, alcohol use, access to affordable healthcare, physicians and cardiologists in area (per capita), fast food outlets (per capita), state legislation for smoke-free workplaces and public places, percent having a health plan, percent unable to afford health care, percent of residents who had a recent routine checkup, healthy eating (salads, fruits, vegetable servings per day), regular exercise, commuting by bicycle or walking, stress index (indicators include depression, divorce, suicide, crime, unemployment, etc.), teaching hospitals (per capita), hospital beds available (per capita), and hospitals with emergency rooms. Sources included CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality res (2000-2004), Medical Marketing Services, CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (2004-2006), AMA membership rolls (2007), Info USA, database of establishments (2007), Americans for Nonsmokers Rights – compilation (2007), U.S. Census, Claritas, Inc., Sperling’s BestPlaces analysis, American Hospital Directory (2008).

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