Monday, September 2, 2013

I've Lived in Two of the Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America

Falls of the Big Sioux River, Sioux Falls, SD
Photo credit:
Today is Monday, September 2, 2013.

ABC News has a report on the Top Ten Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America, of which Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is number 9.  The article was originally published by Prevention magazine. Sioux Falls is noted as being the  "all-around healthiest" of 100 cities that were tracked, based on residents' self-rating of their own health, even though it did not score that well in the "fitness" or "nutrition" categories.  The article notes that people are generally pretty good at assessing their own health, so if they say they feel great, they probably do. 

One Sioux Falls resident is quoted as saying, "It's very free-spirited here, laid-back, and very family oriented.  It's got a small-town feel, and yet it's big enough to make sure there's a good selection of things to o, from shopping downtown to eating at new restaurants."

Sioux Falls was also rated highly for easy commutes to work, low crime and unemployment rates, and access to health care.  The city's main attraction is it's namesake, Falls of the Big Sioux River, located in Falls Park, which covers 123 acres and is located adjacent to the downtown area.  

I can't personally attest to the description of Sioux Falls as "free-spirited," but I would definitely say the city has a casual feel, which probably does encourage a stress-free lifestyle. As well, it's an easy city to get around in, once you get used to it, and there are plenty of parks, including some state park areas nearby, where people can enjoy outdoor activities.  The food available in stores is probably fresher here than in other cities, simply because it is closer to rural areas where the food is produced.  

Downtown Minneapolis from the East Bank of the
University of MN * Photo credit: Forbes
Another metro area on the list of ten best that I have lived in is the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, in Minnesota, which came in at number 3.  These two cities are noticed for the "hardiest hearts."  The metro area boasts miles of bike trails and a chain of man-made lakes that provide over 2 miles of canoeing area.  The Twin Cities also have the highest per-capita number of farmer's markets, largely due to the high concentration of Hmong immigrants, for whom gardening and selling produce is a way of life.  

I've seen statistics elsewhere indicating that the people who stay in the Twin Cities are those who enjoy outdoor winter activities, such as ice skating and cross-country skiing.  Many of the parks are groomed especially for cross-country skiing in the wintertime.  High schools in the area have a competitive hockey teams, and kids can be seen on roller blade skates in the summer, to keep up their skating skills year-round.  In fact, I've seen pickup hockey games played in the streets on summer evenings in the suburbs.   In summer, especially, the walking paths around all of the lakes in both cities are packed with walkers, roller-bladers, and bikers.  The lakes that allow boating are packed with boaters in the summer, and in winter many of the lakes are fit for ice fishing, if weather permits.  

I guess it's a good thing that I've spent the last 20 years of my life in these healthy places, not that my own personal health is anything to write home about.  At least my home location itself doesn't contribute to my health condition.  :-)

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