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by Chindam

Last September, the American Fitness Index (AFI) released their annual census on the healthiest cities in the country. At the top of that list were Washington, Minneapolis, and Denver. Nashville, Las Vegas, and Oklahoma City scraped the bottom. 

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Metropolitan areas win out over smaller communities when it comes to having healthy and happy residents overall, and it's largely due to secure access to sidewalks, parks, and good public transport. Other major factors include tobacco awareness, access to healthy food, and a city’s general walkability. However, a new survey conducted by polling firm Gallup breaks down how these healthy cities compare to the rest of the country. 

"Residents in these top five communities have, on average, significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression compared with those in the five lowest-ranked active living communities," Gallup, the polling group, and consultant firm Healthways said in a statement published by NBC

The two health-oriented organizations have been working together for years to identify and quantify the elements that create healthy or unhealthy lifestyles in particular regions based off natural environments and lifestyles. The organizations have inarguably found that exercise, access to green spaces, healthier eating, and lowered stress really do translate into lower rates of disease and longer, healthier lives.

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With this in mind, it’s apparent why cities such as Las Vegas, Nashville or Oklahoma City score lower in terms of health and wellness. Their high populations suffering from illnesses such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and heart disease consistently, have minimal access to public parks and healthy food distributors. 

However, current regional trends don’t account for the whole story, as these three regions have growing populations of healthy vegetarian and vegan eateries. Oklahoma’s Health Nut Cafe, Las Vegas’ Simply Pure or Nashville's The Wild Cow as well as new developments will hopefully make locals healthier in these cities.

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