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Retiring? A City Can Help Keep You Young — or Age You Faster

Research reveals the 10 'youngest,' 10 'oldest'

Healthiest unhealthiest cities retirement

If you want to look and feel younger than your years, maybe you need to move to another city. Like Salt Lake City, San Francisco or Austin, Texas.

See also: 10 best states for retirement.

Those are the top three cities in's list of the 10 "youngest" cities in America — metropolitan areas with such healthy lifestyles that on average their residents are physically at least two years younger than their chronological age — and many are years younger than that.

RealAge is a website cofounded by Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, and internist Keith Roach, M.D., with Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The site offers an online health assessment that has been taken by 27 million people since 1999. Respondents are asked about their health habits from sleep to smoking to stress. Sample information from 1,000 men and women in each of the 50 largest metropolitan areas was used to come up with the 10 "youngest" and "oldest" cities, based on the health of their residents. The data were adjusted for age differences, so that a city that attracts retirees wasn't penalized when compared with a college town full of young adults.

And the youngest city in terms of health? Salt Lake City. It topped the list because its residents are gung ho for fitness and loathe smoking.

On the other hand, residents of Knoxville and Nashville may need to start worrying. Those two Tennessee cities are numbers one and three on the list of metro areas most likely to make you old before your time, with Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Highpoint, N.C., coming in second.

"A lot of it is overweight-related," says Roach. "The rates of obesity are very high in those areas, and that means diabetes and hypertension rates and cholesterol are all affected."

Go west, stay young

Half of the youngest cities are in the West, where some might argue that a milder climate makes outdoor exercise easier. However, Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver and Minneapolis are also on the young list — cities that get more than their fair share of severe weather. So it can't just be a weather thing.

"There is a higher level of exercise in Western cities, which affects their rates of cancer and heart disease," Roach says. But what makes more of a difference is living in cities "with good public transportation and where it's easier to get to places by walking. Those cities tend to do relatively well."

Next: 10 most youthful cities for retiring. >>

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