Women in West Coast cities rank among the healthiest in the country, according to studies by the The Journal of the American Medical Association, Self magazine, and Centrum. So what's their secret? They each excel at one or more of the following healthy practices. Adopt a few of their rituals and you, too, may be able to join the ranks of the healthiest women.
Eating Fruits and Veggies
Take your cue from fit San Franciscans, who on average eat 52 servings (or cups) of fruit a month. The Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults consuming 2,000 calories per day eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables each day. Daunted by this recommendation? Don't be! You can easily get your suggested fill of fruits of veggies by doing small things like preparing salads for lunch, stir-frying veggies to go with your dinner, and opting for a flavorful fruit dessert.
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Getting Good Sleep
The 2009 Centrum Healthiest Cities Study reported that folks in California's Orange County slumber best, while Seattleites get the worst sleep. Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each day, it recognizes that everyone's sleep needs are different. The key to feeling well-rested is establishing consistent sleep and wake schedules, both on weekdays and weekends. Other tips for getting the most out of your slumber include creating a regular, relaxing bedtime routine; abstaining from food, alcohol, and caffeine (go figure) at least two to three hours before bedtime; and exercising regularly during the day.
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Women in Santa Ana, California, are among the most physically fit in the country. That's because, according to Self magazine's 2008 study of America's healthiest cities, they exercise vigorously nearly 30 percent more than women from any other city. At a minimum, the American Heart Association suggests 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week for a healthy body and mind. If you want to lose weight, the recommendation increases to 60 to 90 minutes of aerobics and weightlifting for at least five days a week. Check out gadgets that could help you lose weight!
Most doctors agree that mental health is just as important as physical health-and that the two are, in fact, intimately related. And in the city whose residents' mental well-being ranks top-San Jose, California-the life expectancy is among the longest in the country (78.1 for men, 82.2 for women). Doctors in the United Kingdom point to laughter, love, sleep, and exercise as ways to improve well-being.
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Enjoying the Great Outdoors
Portland, Oregon-which ranked highest on The Journal of American Medical Association 2010's list of healthiest cities in America-is an outdoor lover's paradise. With 147 miles of scenic hiking trails nearby, it's no surprise that the green city's residents score high in physical fitness and overall well-being. And although there's no documented correlation, research shows Portland women are least likely to die of breast cancer. Even if you don't have access to long lush-lined footpaths, take a brisk walk around the block-moderate sun exposure is proven to enhance mental health.
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