Best and Worst Cities for Women's Health

Stick to these healthy habits no matter where you live.

ByABC News
February 22, 2013, 11:37 AM

Feb. 23, 2013— -- Your cholesterol, your blood pressure -- even your IQ -- all can say a whole lot about your health. But there's another stealth number that might speak volumes: your zip code.

Case in point: If you call one of these 10 best places home, chances are you're already physically and mentally fit. But if you reside in one closer to the bottom 10, you may need a little help.

That's where our fifth annual survey comes in. In partnership with Men's Health, we ranked 100 cities in 41 categories—including nutrition, cost of living, and cancer rates—and analyzed the data to reveal how anyone, anywhere, can live optimally. (You can get fit anytime with our Ultimate At-Home Workout Guide.)

Top 10 Best

San Francisco, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Jose, CA
Boise, ID
Burlington, VT
Minneapolis, MN
Seattle, WA
Austin, TX
St. Paul, MN
Portland, ME

Top 10 Worst

Birmingham, AL
Philadelphia, PA
Toledo, OH
Memphis, TN
Cleveland, OH
Indianapolis, IN
Jackson, MS
Tulsa, OK
St. Louis, MO
Detroit, MI

Merge Your Body and Mind: San Francisco, Calif.

You could wade through tons of scientific research to grasp just how closely physical and mental health are linked. Or you could just check out this number one city.

The women who live there are the healthiest overall in the country, thanks to a one-two punch—they're some of the most active and they have the least anxiety and depression out of our top 10 cities. It's a symbiotic scenario: Studies show that solid emotional health can boost the immune system. On the flip side, research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as meds at fending off mental woes.

Flex your mental and corporal muscles by seeking out new experiences—cooking classes, trivia nights—and by getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week, says San Francisco clinical psychologist Jacinta Jimenez, Psy.D.

Treat Your Ticker Right: San Jose, Calif.

The gals in this sunny spot score top marks for cardiac health, likely because they're way into heart-friendly physical fitness (San Jose has more runners than almost any other city in the country). But it could also be because of what they're not doing.

Fewer people light up in San Jose than in any other U.S. city, a healthy boon since smoking can clog arteries and increase risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, says local cardiologist Dan V. Dang, M.D.

So ditch the cigs and, while you're at it, let these women teach you a lesson in moderation. Fewer people binge drink here than in any of our top 10 towns, sparing their hearts the negative effects of too much alcohol. Stick to one drink or less per day, says Dang, and hit the trail (or treadmill) at least five days a week. (The scenery is much better when you run outside. Get inspired by browsing our list of The 10 Most Beautiful Nature Runs in the Country.)


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