25 Best Cities to Live — 2012
How's Your City Doing?

25 Best Cities to Live — 2012

Find out where Americans have the healthiest RealAge.

1 / 27 How's Your City Doing?

Is your city keeping you young, or making you old before your time? Our 2012 Youngest & Oldest Cities in America report employed RealAge® Test results from more than 28 million people to rank America's 50 largest metropolitan areas and uncover the best places to stay young.

"Aging is inevitable, but the rate of aging is not," says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge Test. "Each city ranking is a unique assessment of the healthy lifestyles, or lack of them, in that metro area."

Our Calculations

2 / 27 Our Calculations

This year, we reviewed two dozen factors that influence a person's RealAge to reveal the best places to stay young. Lifestyle choices have a big impact on a city's age, says RealAge Test co-creator Michael Roizen, MD. "Cities with the lowest stress are basically the youngest. Stress, smoking, diet, exercise—all four of those seem to go together." When residents take good care of themselves, they tend to have lower rates for high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. And that translates to a younger RealAge.

1. San Francisco, CA

3 / 27 1. San Francisco, CA

Healthy habits earn the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area the top spot as America's youngest city. Bay Area residents rank first for gobbling fruits and veggies, and second for eating whole grains—no surprise, since the region gave birth to the local-food movement. They're also best in the nation for not smoking and second best for exercise. All those factors help keep residents' blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels healthy.

Lower your cholesterol with these 5 tasty foods.

2. Salt Lake City, UT

4 / 27 2. Salt Lake City, UT

Two highlights help earn Salt Lake City-Ogden the second-youngest RealAge in America: The region is the best place for happy marriages and second best for not smoking. Residents' other healthy habits include taking a daily aspirin and keeping an optimistic outlook. Both are good for your heart.

3. San Diego, CA

5 / 27 3. San Diego, CA

An ideal climate and Pacific setting make this SoCal city number three. Sun-drenched San Diego is the best city for exercise (no surprise in a place that's home to 80-plus golf courses and where radio stations broadcast daily surf reports). It's also third best for optimism and fourth best for not smoking. A sunny outlook and healthy habits help keep San Diegans' diabetes, blood pressure and stress levels in check.

Try this fat-burning workout for a beach-ready bod.

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

6 / 27 4. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

Denizens of this vibrant Midwestern metropolis know how to take care of themselves, and that makes it one of the best places to stay young. Minneapolis-St. Paul is best when it comes to eating whole grains, which helps residents have the best blood pressure, too. It's also second best for low stress, and third best for adequate sleep and vitamin D—all of which make this a youthful city.

Need some ZZZs? Use this 9-step sleep-better plan.

5. Denver, CO

7 / 27 5. Denver, CO

Residents of the Mile High City and its neighbor Boulder rank best in the country for optimism. They're also third best for exercise, thanks to more than 850 miles of off-road trails for cycling, running and hiking. All that activity helps Denver-Boulder rank as the best place to dodge cholesterol and diabetes, and second-best place for healthy blood pressure.

Take this test to learn your diabetes risk.

6. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

8 / 27 6. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

Home to academic powerhouses, such as Duke University, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill forms the famous "Research Triangle." That helps foster a lively, optimistic and socially connected population. This region ranks third for healthy cholesterol and fifth for healthy blood pressure. It's also fifth for strong employment levels.

Discover how strong social ties can boost your health.

7. Boston, MA

9 / 27 7. Boston, MA

Home to Harvard and the Boston Marathon, Boston-Worcester-Lawrence combines brains and brawn to land the number seven spot among America's youngest cities. Boston is best for health insurance coverage, which helps residents stay on top of their healthcare. Smart habits, such as exercise and eating plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies, also help this Yankee region nab the number two spot for healthiest cholesterol.

8. Austin, TX

10 / 27 8. Austin, TX

Like several of our youngest cities, Austin-San Marcos is a college town. "That's good for a city," says Dr. Roach, "because residents tend to have a good understanding about health." Folks in the capital of Texas can brag about the best employment rate among RealAge cities, which helps foster the lowest stress and second-best optimism in the country.

Want to be as mellow as an Austinite? Try our 12-step stress management plan.

9. Washington, D.C.

11 / 27 9. Washington, D.C.

Home to the nation's power brokers, Washington-Baltimore does have residents with a lot of stress. "But they also have a pretty good diet and relatively low smoking rates," says Roach. More importantly, Washington ranks best among RealAge cities for income and a healthy third for employment. Both provide residents solid financial resources to look after their health.

Here's a surprising way to curb job stress.

10. Los Angeles, CA

12 / 27 10. Los Angeles, CA

No, it's not plastic surgery that keeps Real Housewives and other residents of Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County young. These SoCal dwellers also maintain plenty of heart-healthy habits, including exercise, eating fruits and veggies, taking aspirin and not smoking. But there's room for improvement, says Roach. "They're angry, and they have low marital rates."

Give anger the boot with this 9-step plan.

11. Sacramento, CA

13 / 27 11. Sacramento, CA

Located on the banks of the Sacramento and American rivers, California's state capital is a mecca for water sports. It's also popular with cyclists, walkers and runners. Residents are diligent about taking aspirin, managing stress and eating a smart diet. That helps keep their diabetes and blood pressure rates among the best in America.

Add these 6 heart-healthy foods to your diet.

12. Hartford, CT

14 / 27 12. Hartford, CT

Home to many insurance companies, and known as "The Insurance Capital of the World," it's no surprise Hartford has a circumspect population. This prosperous New England city ranks second for insurance and best for the fewest falls, both of which help keep inhabitants healthy and safe. Hartford's residents also do well when it comes to managing anger and staying socially connected.

Don't overlook this potential benefit of your health insurance.

13. New York, NY

15 / 27 13. New York, NY

Residents of New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island have plenty of healthy highlights to celebrate: third best for income as well as moderate alcohol consumption among women (Carrie Bradshaw had the right idea!), and fourth best in exercise and taking aspirin. But life in the bustling Big Apple takes a toll, too. New Yorkers are more likely than residents of other RealAge cities to be angry, pessimistic, unmarried and diabetic.

14. Seattle, WA

16 / 27 14. Seattle, WA

Home to famous Pike's Place Market, with its abundance of fresh seafood and produce, Seattle not surprisingly ranks number 6 in fruit and veggie intake and—despite the cloudy weather—number 1 for healthy vitamin D levels. And with more than 300 mountainous state parks, Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton ranked number 9 for exercise—helping make it the 14th youngest city in America.

Find out how outdoor exercise boosts your mood.

15. Miami, FL

17 / 27 15. Miami, FL

Miami-Fort Lauderdale is an ethnically diverse city and popular destination for both tourists and retirees. It's also a mixed bag of diverse health factors that put it at number 15. On the old side, Miami ranked a whopping number 49 for anger, inflammation, unhappy marriages and a lack of strong social connections. On the young side, many Miamians enjoy extremely robust sex lives (unhappy marriages aside) and very low rates of smoking and drinking.

Try these tools to help you kick the smoking habit for good.

16. Chicago, IL

18 / 27 16. Chicago, IL

Land of the blues and deep dish pizza, Chicago-Gary-Kenosho ranks high for getting ample amounts of exercise, sound sleep and healthy-for-you whole grains. On the not-so-young side, Chicago comes in at number 33 for diabetes and inflammation—perhaps due in part to Chicagoans' love of red meat, Windy City hotdogs and all that deep-dish pizza.

Use this topping on your pizza for clearer arteries.

17. Philadelphia, PA

19 / 27 17. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates and some of the highest incomes in the country—two possible reasons the city's residents are such sound sleepers. They have little to no financial stress. Ironically, many folks living in the "City of Brotherly Love" experience high rates of anger and tend to be loners, which helps put the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City area at number 17 on our youngest-and-oldest cities list.

Forge strong social ties for a longer, happier life.

18. Phoenix, AZ

20 / 27 18. Phoenix, AZ

Hot, dry and rugged Phoenix is America's sixth-largest city and ranks right smack in the middle for exercise (number 25), which is surprising in light of the ample hiking, mountain biking, river rafting and golfing available in this desert metropolis. Short on happily married and socially bonded residents, Phoenix-Mesa is nonetheless home to an optimistic, largely anger-free population—putting it in the number 18 spot on America's youngest cities list.

Learn why getting your anger in check can help you live longer. 


19. Atlanta, GA

21 / 27 19. Atlanta, GA

Birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement, Atlanta boasts a tumultuous past, which might explain the city's current spirit of optimism and low rates of anger and stress. This trifecta of healthy mind-and-mood factors helped rank Atlanta the 19th youngest city in America. If the population could just lower its rates of diabetes and inflammation, they may nudge their way up on next year's list.

Here are 3 foods that may help you dodge diabetes.

20. Houston, TX

22 / 27 20. Houston, TX

Houston is a beehive of economic activity—putting it in the healthy number 2 spot for gainful employment and at number 7 for high incomes. Houstonians also eat out more than folks in any other city, and many residents relish Texas-style barbecue. But a high intake of red meat may be one factor behind Houston-Galveston-Brazoria ranking number 45 for hypertension and number 43 for inflammation—two serious risk factors for heart disease.

Grill this to cut your heart-disease risk by 36 percent.

21. Milwaukee, WI

23 / 27 21. Milwaukee, WI

Ironically, the city of famous beer-brewing companies is home to very few heavy drinkers. Couple that with Milwaukee-Racine's super low rates of hypertension, diabetes and inflammation and you've got a city with a lot of young, healthy hearts. On the other end of the pendulum, Milwaukeeans aren't having much fun between the sheets. Coming in at number 50 for gals and number 47 for guys, Milwaukee is one of the least sexually active cities in America.

Put the sizzle back in your sex life with this relaxing exercise.

22. Portland, OR

24 / 27 22. Portland, OR

What helped place this Pacific Northwest city at number 22? For starters: the second lowest rates of anger and the second highest levels of vitamin D. Residents in Portland, OR, as well as Vancouver, WA, also eat plenty of age-defying fruits, veggies and whole grains, and get a fair bit of exercise—likely due to the ample biking and walking lanes throughout both cities. A few of their major agers: high unemployment, low incomes and poor sleep.

23. Orlando, FL

25 / 27 23. Orlando, FL

World-famous Disneyworld makes Orlando a top tourist destination, but those tourist dollars are not quite enough to counter this city's high unemployment rate, low income levels and lack of medical insurance. On the healthier side, many of Orlando's residents boast active sex lives and low rates of diabetes—putting this southeastern city at number 23 on the youngest-oldest cities list.

Here are the top 8 healthy snacks to control high blood sugar.

24. Providence, RI

26 / 27 24. Providence, RI

Capital of the smallest state in the U.S., Providence, RI, nonetheless boasts miles of beautiful coastline and ample green spaces, which likely explains this region's rankings: number 22 for exercise, number 10 for cholesterol and number 14 for diabetes. Many residents also enjoy active sex lives. Unfortunately, this New England city scored poorly for optimism and sound sleep—putting Providence-Fall River-Warwick at number 24 on the youngest-oldest cities list.

Discover how optimism boosts immunity.

25. Dallas, TX

27 / 27 25. Dallas, TX

Birthplace of the 7-11 convenience store, Dallas is the third largest city in Texas. A sizeable portion of its residents are also happily married, gainfully employed and enjoy a positive outlook on life. On the less-healthy side, many residents suffer from hypertension and little to no healthcare coverage—a bad combination that helped rank Dallas-Fortworth right in the middle of the country at number 25.



Wellness is a difficult word to define. Traditionally wellness has meant the opposite of illness and the absence of disease and disability. More recently wellness has come to describe something that you have personal control over. ...

Wellness is now a word used to describe living the best possible life you can regardless of whether you have a disease or disability. Your wellness is not only related to your physical health, but is a combination of things including spiritual wellness, social wellness, mental wellness and emotional wellness. Wellness is seen as a combination of mind, body and spirit. Different people may have different ideas about wellness. There is no single set standard for wellness and wellness is a difficult thing to quantify.