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Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jun 18, 2017

A recent study uncovered the 25 healthiest cities across our great nation.

Lots of factors were taken into consideration to determine how these cities rose above the rest to become “healthy.” Criteria included the obesity rate, healthy and non-healthy behaviors such as smoking and physical activities, healthy diets, median income, and whether or not the inhabitants had health insurance.

This might not seem unusual, but if a life-depriving illness such as diabetes or heart disease goes unnoticed due to lack of insurance, the sufferer is unlikely to live past the typical U.S. life expectancy of 78.5 years.

Premature death of each city was cited to determine the healthiest cities across the U.S. Fourteen states proved to have cities that were listed in the healthiest 25, and pretty much all regions in the U.S. are represented.

Credit goes to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute for this comprehensive study.

Below is a list of the cities they rated 1-25, with the healthiest city in the U.S. being No. 1:

 

25. Portland-South Portland, ME

24. Lawrence, KS

23. Ann Arbor, MI

22. State College, PA

21. Madison, WI

20. Santa Rosa, CA

19. Appleton, WI

18. Dubuque, IA

17. Lincoln, NE

16. Corvallis, OR

15. Fargo, ND-MN

14. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

12. St. Cloud, MN

11. Fort Collins, CO

10. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN

9. Mankato-North Mankato, MN

8. Burlington-South Burlington, VT

7. Logan, UT-ID

6. Provo-Orem, UT

5. Iowa City, IA

4. Boulder, CO

3. Ames, IA

2. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

1. Rochester, MN

 

Minnesota has six of the healthiest cities in America because it has a fairly low rate of premature death compared to other cities, a lower average adult obesity rate and greater opportunities for increased physical activities; a majority of its citizens have health insurance, a good median household income and a high rate of physicians per capita.

Wisconsin has four of the healthiest cities; Iowa and California each have three; Utah and Colorado have two; and the following states have one: Vermont, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Idaho, North Dakota, Michigan, Kansas, Nebraska and Maine.

So, if you hope to live longer, you might consider a big move to Minnesota or Wisconsin, or you might choose an easier path to health by improving your odds where you live.

Advice for living longer might include:

 

1) Look for opportunities to get some exercise every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a hike, ride a bike, play basketball, softball or football. Take your friends to the park to play tennis. Play catch with your kids. Walk the dog. Look for places you can go to learn to climb a wall with hand holds and tiny footholds. Ski, golf, swim. There’s always something you can do, no matter what the weather or place you live. If all else fails, join a gym, or add any of the above activities to your gym workout.

Don’t start running a marathon your first day. Exercise is best undertaken in baby steps, especially if you’ve been a couch potato for a long time. And see your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to undertake the exercise you have in mind. Build into it slowly. If you don’t, you will be in pain, and the program you’ve outlined for yourself will never last.

 

2) Eat right. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet every day. Limit processed foods and sugary foods. Eat more salads. Eat Kohl vegetables to help keep cancer away.

I know you love chocolate – and the recent hype on chocolate containing antioxidants is true –but sorry to say, they are more prevalent in the non-sugary, darkest chocolate on the shelf. There’s only a little in your yummy milky chocolate high-fructose corn syrup choice of the day.

Limit your fatty meats and processed meats. Stay as natural as you can in your diet, and look for a large display of colors on your plate. This will assure that you’re getting all of your nutrients every day the right way.

Before you start a diet of any kind, see your doctor or registered dietician to help guide you. Some foods, even though considered generally healthy, might not be for you. Fruits that are high in fructose are not good, especially in large quantities for diabetics, for instance. Make sure you’re eating the right foods for your body.

 

3) Health insurance –hopefully you have it, and it remains affordable for you and your family. If something is bugging you, go see your doctor. If you find out you do have a health issue, it’s best to discover it when it can easily be cured or prevented than when it is a major, life threatening problem. Take care of yourself first. If you go down, your whole family will suffer.

 

4) Watch your weight. Weight usually climbs as you age, but there are things you can do. You just have to make up your mind to do it. Eat right: Watch your calories and what you eat. It doesn’t help just to watch your calories. Sure, you can eat a hunk of chocolate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and perhaps your will look thin –but what it’s doing inside your body is what is telling. See No. 2 above for advice.

Get some exercise. The more sedentary you are, the fatter you will become, and the shorter your life will be. It’s that simple. Move. (See No. 1 above).

I advise that you see your doctor to make sure you do not have a medical problem that is contributing to your weight. Your doctor can assist you with a program that will help you to be successful in your endeavors. It’s always advantageous to have a “coach” to help you through this.

 

5) Don’t smoke anything. Smoking is one of the best ways to die early. Not only that, but your smoke can also affect the lives of others around you.

I’d love to give you my personal sermon on smoking, but I’ll avoid that here because I know it won’t do any good anyway. If you have any inclination to stop, see your doctor for a program that may be effective and painless for you. You will be healthier, live longer and avoid a very painful end-of-life illness. It will be painful for you, your family and your friends.

 

6) See your doctor. If you have undetected health issues, he can help you live longer. He can help you will all kinds of advice to keep you healthy in your travels through life. Make sure you follow his advice, eat right, exercise and take any medications he suggests. Be immunized. Make sure the water you drink is within the state’s guidelines or better. I always filter my water, even though my tap water has been determined to be safe.

And lastly, avoid stress if you can. Stress is one of our nation’s biggest killers. Don’t “explode.” Sit back, breathe deeply, think of something else that you love. My “go-to” place when I am stressed is a meadow called Glass Meadow that I have hiked. There is a beautiful, meandering stream that runs through it and a profusion of wildflowers that defies belief in the spring. It’s the calmest, sweetest, most gentle yet stirring memory I have.

Find your “go to place” and use it. I guarantee, it will help. Find out what is stressing you, and eliminate it if you can. If not, have your “go-to” place with you at all times.

I wish you love, peace, and tranquility. Signing off for now – going to visit my Glass Meadow. Ciao.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

 

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