The best way to be happy and healthy? Live a healthy and organic lifestyle. But that’s easier said than done especially if you don’t live in an area where access to organic food and health and fitness is not as accessible.
If you’re thinking about moving or considering just how healthy your city is, you’re not alone. Here are the best places to live an organic lifestyle in the United States and in other cities in the world.
Healthiest Cities in the United States
You’ll find plenty of lists indicating the healthiest places to live in the US. But if we’re looking at things objectively, then WalletHub’s list of healthiest cities in the US is the best one to base what makes a city healthy.
WalletHub took 174 cities, including the 150 most populated cities in the country and at least two of the most populated cities in every state. Researchers then compared them using 43 metrics based on four criteria found in healthy cities:
- Fitness (access to gyms, fitness centers, and outdoor recreation areas);
- Food (fruit and vegetable consumption, access to vegan, vegetarian, and other organic diet lifestyles, obesity levels);
- Eco-spaces (access to green spaces and eco-friendly and sustainable public spaces like parks and walking trails);
- Healthcare (cost and accessibility of medical visits).
They calculated the weighted averages of all the metrics and then computed which ones had the highest scores. Here are the Top 10 healthiest cities in the United States.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco tops the list as the healthiest city in America. The city ranks first in healthy food access. San Francisco has the lowest number of people who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables per day. They also rank fourth in the number of healthy restaurants per capita, which means people have healthier options available when they want to eat.
San Francisco also ranks first in terms of green spaces, meaning residents have the best access to public green spaces to help with fitness. The city has the most walking trails per capita, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for people to get fit just by walking around the city. This offsets their one flaw, which is the fact that they have the highest average cost of monthly gym membership.
With plenty of outdoor spaces and biking trails, Seattle ranks second in the healthiest places to live in the US. This should come as no surprise to residents, who rank third for the most number of public parks and fifth for the city where each resident spends the most on city parks.
The city also led in fitness with the highest percentage of physically active adults. It is also ranked third in the city with the most running trails in the area. Unfortunately, it loses to San Francisco due to its lower rank in healthcare, ranking 19th in terms of healthcare accessibility.
San Diego, California
San Diego ranks high on healthy food and fitness, ranking number one in fitness overall. However, it ranks less on green spaces and healthcare, which is why it only takes bronze for the healthiest cities in the US.
In fourth place, Oregon scored a high third place for green spaces and sixth place in food. It also won the special title of having the most healthy restaurants per capita, which means residents have plenty of healthier options to eat compared to other cities. Unfortunately, its score dropped due to its fitness ranking: it scored 16th place in fitness.
Washington D.C. scored high enough for the spot of fifth place, beating out New York City, Denver, Irvine, Scottsdale, and Chicago for fifth place. Unlike the top four contenders, however, the capital did not win any special awards or rank top for any criteria.
Least Healthy Cities
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be in the least healthy cities of WalletHub’s list. While it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, these cities are not necessarily the best places to live an organic lifestyle. It is possible, but you will not have the same accessibility to healthy foods and public fitness spaces compared to organic cities like San Francisco and Seattle.
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Shreveport, Louisiana
- Gulfport, Mississippi
- Laredo, Texas – Has one of the lowest costs of medical visits in the country but still ranked low based on WalletHub’s key metrics. Also had the fewest healthy restaurants per capita and the fewest number of physically active adults.
- Brownsville, Texas
Healthiest Cities in the World
Outside the United States, the healthiest places in the world can vary based on what you’re looking for. Some look at the term “healthiest” and base it on terms like the city with the best access to healthy foods or based on the average lifespan of a city’s residents. Here are our top three healthiest places to live in the world.
Although not a financially wealthy city like the other areas in Japan, Okinawa earns a spot as one of the top healthiest places to live because of its population’s average longevity. Okinawa is home to the longest-lived population in the world, meaning it’s the city with the highest life expectancy that exceeds the global average lifespan.
The average lifespan according to the World Health Organization is 74 years for women and 70 years for men. In Okinawa, the average life expectancy is 86 years for women and 78 years for men. That’s a significant gap of 12 years for women and 8 years for men.
Okinawa is also home to the most number of the highest number of centenarians – people who live to a hundred years or more. As of 2016, there are 740 centenarians living in the island. Based on studies, the reason for the long life expectancy has to do with their genetics and lifestyle. The gene pool in Okinawa seems to have a low risk for diseases that affect adults later in life like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
The reason for long life? Studies link it to Okinawa’s general lifestyle. residents in that area practice regular exercise, an active lifestyle, and a diet consisting of nutritious food mainly green and yellow vegetables, root crops, soy, and fish. Red meat is not popular, and vices like alcohol and smoking are not practiced by many.
In Okinawa, gluttony is frowned upon and people willingly choose to eat just enough to get them through the day.
These, coupled with strong social relationship residents forge with their family and neighbors, ensures long and healthy life. Okinawa’s culture of fostering social interactions reduces the chances of feeling lonely, depressed, or stressed.
Vancouver is featured on this list because it is the major city with the cleanest air in the world. Despite its dense downtown area, Vancouver has a strong public transportation system and a comprehensive bike lane system, thus reducing the number of private vehicles in the city and making it one of the cleanest cities in the world.
Aside from public transportation, Vancouver’s local government does what it can to reduce air pollution. Buildings and businesses have strict environmental standards and laws against equipment and practices that generate air pollutants.
Aside from fresh air, Vancouver residents have easy access to green spaces like mountain trails and freshwater areas. And despite a 30 percent increase in population growth and 18 percent job growth, Vancouver has managed to reduce its carbon emissions down 6 percent in the last 30 years.
Paris was named as the healthiest cities in the world to visit by TravelSupermarket in 2019 based on the number of fitness amenities, food, green spaces, and cost of living. France came out on top, ranking high for all these criteria.
It ranked particularly high in food, having over 1,305 vegan restaurants for those who want to live an organic lifestyle. It also features 894 spas, 155 health food shops, and 139 parks – the largest number of health and wellness facilities per square kilometer.
While it may not be the best in terms of cost of living, compared to other cities Paris does not have a lack of businesses that cater to healthy and organic lifestyles. As long as one can afford the high cost of living, they can have easy access to commercial and public places that can help them sustain their healthy lifestyle.
Do You Live in These Cities?
Take note that living in these cities doesn’t automatically make you a healthier person. Living in these cities simply means that you have a much easier advantage getting to places or businesses that can help you maintain your healthy lifestyle.
These cities are the best places to live an organic lifestyle because, compared to the average city, everything you need to stay healthy is accessible. As long as you’re actively choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle in your area, you stand to have an advantage whether you’re living in one of the healthiest places to live in the US or in one of the healthiest places to live in the world.