America’s Top 10 Cities Where People Stress Less

America’s Top 10 Cities Where People Stress Less

Find out which U.S. cities have residents with the least.

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We all get stressed sometimes, but how stress impacts your health may depend on how you handle it. “High levels of continuous stress can raise your blood pressure, harm your immune system and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke,” says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge® Test. On the flip side, Dr. Roach says, a little bit of stress is good for us: It helps us perform better. Being able to effectively manage stress can make your RealAge 2.4 years younger if you’re a man and 1.1 years younger if you’re a woman. That’s why we factored stress into our RealAge Youngest & Oldest Cities in America Report

Chronic Stress Ages You

2 / 13 Chronic Stress Ages You

When you encounter a perceived threat—like a big job interview—your body releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline raises your blood pressure and cortisol increases your blood sugar levels. Once the threat is over, your hormone levels drop and your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. But when you experience a high level of constant stress, that fight-or-flight response stays turned on and the body releases more and more of these stress hormones. “This has a bad affect on our bodies, making us more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and even cancer,” says Roach.

1. San Diego, CA

3 / 13 1. San Diego, CA

Residents of America’s Finest City really know how to chill out—and live young. They earned the top spot for cities with the least stress, and for good reason. San Diego boasts some of the highest rates of optimism and exercise, thanks to year-round beautiful weather and serene beaches. “Exercise is a great way for most people to relieve stress,” says Roach. “It lowers cortisol and baseline epinephrine.” Other factors that contribute to San Diego’s laid-back attitude and overall good health are the city’s low rates of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, both activities that people tend to do when they're stressed out.

Tip: Get happy by doing this for 20 minutes

2. Austin, TX

4 / 13 2. Austin, TX

A couple factors help rank Austin as the second mellowest city in America. The city's healthy employment rate—Austin ranks second in employment among RealAge Cities—certainly helps. “There’s a direct correlation between losing your job and stress,” says Roach. “People who are unemployed have an older RealAge than those who are fully employed.” Residents of the Live Music Capital of the World may also thank the 250 music venues for their lack of stress. Studies show that listening to music can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune cell count and reduce levels of stress hormones.

Tip: Jobs that keep you young

3. Kansas City, MO

5 / 13 3. Kansas City, MO

Managing stress seems to be one of the few things Kansas City residents are doing right to stay young and healthy. They rank highly in a host of unhealthy habits, including poor eating habits, high smoking rates and not getting enough sleep. Whether it’s all that soothing Kansas City jazz music, upscale shopping (retail therapy can be a great stress reliever!) or camaraderie around sports teams, residents don’t let stress get the best of them.

Tip: Stress less in 12 steps

4. Sacramento, CA

6 / 13 4. Sacramento, CA

Residents of California’s state capital are diligent about managing stress. For starters, Sacramento is one of the top cities for exercise, which is a great way to cope with stress. Residents here also have some of the lowest rates of diabetes and hypertension (both conditions that can stem from chronic stress). Even better, they have low rates of C-reactive protein, a marker of disease-causing inflammation that's worsened by stress. Plus, Sacramento residents rank in the top 10 for healthy mouths—another sign that they stay on top of stress.

5. Phoenix, AZ

7 / 13 5. Phoenix, AZ

With endless sunshine, some of the nicest spas in the country and plenty of outdoor activities (including golf, biking, hiking and horseback riding), it's no surprise Phoenix is one of the least-stressed cities in America. But residents of the Valley of the Sun have something that not a lot of cities have: They're among the 10 top cities for optimism, as well. “A person who’s optimistic isn’t protected from stress, but is probably going to be less affected by it,” says Roach. One study tracked 135 adults ages 60 and older over six weeks and found that the stress hormone cortisol tends to be more stable in people with optimistic personalities.

Tip: Think happy thoughts to live younger

6. San Francisco, CA

8 / 13 6. San Francisco, CA

The City by the Bay may be number six when it comes to stress, but it’s number one for having the youngest RealAge. Aside from having some super-healthy pearly whites, San Francisco residents are number one for exercise, sexual satisfaction for men (another good way to relieve tension—if you’re in a committed relationship), not smoking and eating fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits as well as whole grains boost serotonin levels in the brain, and vegetables high in magnesium and vitamin B6 help relieve anxiety.


7. Chicago, IL

9 / 13 7. Chicago, IL

Chicagoans' healthy habits offer clues to why their stress levels are low. First off, The Windy City is number two for drinking moderate amounts of alcohol—and the fact that residents here don’t reach for excessive amounts of booze is a sign that stress isn’t getting to them. Chicagoans also get a lot of shut-eye (they’re ranked fifth for sleep). Chronic stress keeps your cortisol levels elevated into the evening hours, which increases anxiety and may make falling asleep difficult. Finally, Chicago ranks in the top 10 for income, and a healthy paycheck is a good buffer against stress.

Tip: Sleep better in 9 steps

8. Minneapolis, MN

10 / 13 8. Minneapolis, MN

Low stress—and other healthy factors—helps make Minneapolis the sixth youngest city in America. Aside from eating a diverse diet with plenty of whole grains, the Twin Cities is number five for both employment and health insurance. Both help ward off stress. “Lack of good health insurance is a source of both financial stress as well as overall stress,” says Roach. “The worst thing that can happen to someone is to have some sort of catastrophic illness with no health insurance. It can bankrupt an entire family.”

9. Memphis, TN

11 / 13 9. Memphis, TN

Residents of The River City are great at managing stress. For starters, Memphis is the least angry city in America, and that's good news because anger triggers the release of stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol. Memphis is also ranked number one for employment overall and first for sexual satisfaction for women. One study out of Scotland found that when subjects had sex, their blood pressure reacted less to stressful activities. Residents here also have strong social networks. “Connecting with others can really make a difference in feeling less stressed,” Roach says.

Tip: How to have better sex

10. Miami, FL

12 / 13 10. Miami, FL

Miami isn’t just home to the NBA champions the Miami Heat; it’s also home to some of the least stressed residents in America. With nice weather, plenty of relaxing parks and some of the best beaches in the U.S., it’s easy to see why. Miami is also ranked in the top 10 for sexual satisfaction in both women and men. Plus, it’s the 10th most optimistic city in America. All these factors help residents enjoy a laid-back lifestyle.

Top 10 Most Stressed Out Cities

13 / 13 Top 10 Most Stressed Out Cities

While being able to manage stress can make your RealAge younger, high levels of chronic stress can make your RealAge older. Find out where residents are the most stressed and see where they rank in our Youngest and Oldest Cities in America list.

  1. Greenville, SC
  2. Louisville, KY
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Indianapolis, IN
  5. Hartford, CT
  6. Nashville, TN
  7. Salt Lake City, UT
  8. Knoxville, TN
  9. Greensboro, NC
  10. Las Vegas, NV

Find out if you’re older or younger than what the calendar says. Take the RealAge Test.

See all our RealAge Top Cities Reports.