Living in a big city makes residents happier and healthier compared to the smaller communities and towns, according to a recent study held by Gallup and Healthways.

Larger cities are healthier for residents since they feature open spaces such as parks, cycling roads, jogging tracks, good public transport and open-air facilities. These elements inspire citizens to a more fit and outdoor lifestyle. The report, published on Tuesday, suggests that by living in a big city, residents are more influenced by the “healthy living” lifestyle and tend to be more active than residents from small communities with limited spaces.

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According to the report, the big cities across the country have more active and healthy citizens and have reduced their obesity levels, as well as their high blood pressure, high cholesterol and rates of depression levels.

“Policies that nudge people into healthy activities where it is easy to walk to the store, bike to a friend’s house, get access to fresh produce and be surrounded by healthy-minded, supportive friends are ones that make the healthy choice,” explained Dan Buettner, founder of the Blue Zones Project in the study.

Big city, happy resident 

Obesity levels have been a public concern in the United States for the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of the country’s population is considered obese.

Suffering from overweight leads to the lack of health due to heart diseases, strokes, diabetes and even cancer, these outcomes are reflected in the U.S annual medical cost.

In 2008 the annual obesity cost was $147 billion dollars according to the CDC, which is why the government and local authorities have focused on implementing a healthier lifestyle for citizens.

Federal dietary guidelines have urged people in the country to start eating more greens and reduce their salt and fat consumption. At least one hour of daily exercise is also advised by the government.

But sometimes eating healthy and avoiding sugary treats is not enough when it comes to losing weight, exercise takes a big part of our accumulated fat, not only by reducing body mass but by providing a more active and happy lifestyle without the fear of deadly diseases.

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Open spaces, jogging tracks, green parks, and bike roads are the perfect mix of a healthy lifestyle since they are the entire infrastructure to lead citizens into a more active life. The recently published survey studied over 48 communities across the country to deter

Gallup and Healthways is a survey company that encourages healthy behavior trough science, for they analyzed over 48 communities across the country to determine which cities had the best structures for a healthy life and if the happiness indicators of the location matched those results.

These are the top five cities across the U.S that encourage a healthier life trough investing in public areas such as parks and bike lines according to the research:

  1. Boston- Cambridge- Newton
  2. San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward
  3. Chicago, Naperville, Elgin
  4. New York, Newark, Jersey City
  5. Washington, Arlington, Alexandria.

“Residents in these top five communities have, on average, significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression levels when compared with those in the five lowest-ranked active living communities,” explained the Gallup research group.

The team explained how parks and bike lanes helped to reduced diabetes, blood pressure and obesity among citizens, as for public transportation, helps with the reduction of daily physical pain.

On the contrary, the team found these cities to be the lowest on encouraging a healthy life: Tulsa, Durham, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne. Because of their lack of public spaces and public exercise locations.

Researchers also informed about a relatively small community that stepped up their healthy-lifestyle-game and has grown over the past few years. Alberta Lea in Minnesota has increased its well-being score, thanks to the implementation of 10-mile bike lanes, sidewalks, street walks, etc.

The city even lowered its smoking rates between 2014 and 2016. Citizens also opted for fresher and healthier suppers and meals. According to the survey, the community pride rate also increased.

“The city adopted policies to reduce tobacco use, and started workplace programs to promote health and social interaction. Grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and workplaces made changes to make healthy choices easier; and several restaurants added outdoor dining areas,” explained the research group in the study.

Source: Gallup