Where Does Your City Rank in Well-Being?
A new survey reveals the healthiest and happiest areas of the country.
Where you live can affect your health or better or for worse. Thanks to the recently-released Community Well-Being Index by Gallup-Healthways, you can now see how your city stacks up against others around the U.S when it comes to well-being.
The index was compiled using 350,000 interviews to rank 189 communities by “physical, emotional, financial, community and social health,” as TIME reports. The top spot went to Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida (for the second year in a row) followed by Barnstable Town, Massachusetts, Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California, Urban Honolulu, Hawaii, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The lowest scoring city was Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma.
As TIME points out, the findings suggest that living near the ocean may do you some good. Clinical depression is a bit lower by the beach and eating habits are also slightly healthier there, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Dan Witters told TIME. For those of us who don’t have the option of beachside living though, there’s good news. According to Witters, the most important factor in personal well-being is your motivation, not location: “You don’t need a beach to have someone who encourages you to be healthy; you don’t need a beach to learn new and interesting things; you don’t need a beach to get to the dentist,” Witters said.
Fostering healthy habits isn’t location dependent, but another recent study suggests that the design of your neighborhood may impact your well-being too.
Architect Adriana Zuniga-Teran, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona, surveyed residents in four different types of neighborhoods: “traditional neighborhoods” close to stores and restaurants, suburban developments, gated communities and cluster communities with “townhome-style residences” and shared amenities.
People who lived in traditional neighborhoods walked the most but they also reported lower levels of mental well-being compared to people living in “low-density suburban neighborhoods,” which surprised Zuniga-Teran. This may be because living in the ‘burbs means you’re closer to nature. “Trees seem to bring a lot of benefits, and I would like to study the effect of planting trees” in more urban areas, Zuniga-Ternan said a press release, adding “that could be a really direct strategy to improve well-being.”