Women’s Health Writeup Roundup: The Best Cities for Women

Sep 27 2010 Published by under [Science in Society], Health

Sci had a great idea to dissect the articles in Women's Health and take a look at the information being offered to women on heath, wellness, relationships, and life. It meant taking a good, hard, in-depth look at the popular expert material offered to female wellness consumer. The results were a little alarming. Take a look around Scientopia today for more on beauty tips, doctor's visits, fidelity, and more.

Hey ladies, want to feel better? Or have a stronger heart? Maybe you'd like to prevent breast cancer? Or find a hot date, or just live longer? Well, what if I told you that I could show you the secret to achieving one of these goals? Really, pick one and I could give you a little assurance on how you'd just taken a preventative measure. How? Well, according to this slideshow from Women's Health, it all depends on where you live. They've identified the best cities for women interested in pursuing one of the objectives above. But before you pack your bags, let's take a look at the information they're really offering.

First Women's Health reports that San Jose, California has the second lowest depression rate in the nation. The reason? More women reported working out at least twice a week in comparison to other places surveyed. Exercise releases endorphins which increases positive moods--that's great, but does it really mean that if you live in San Jose you'll be more likely to exercise? It's possible. Over time, you may be more influenced by your peer group, and if they're into exercising, then you might take up that activity. But that's not a guarantee.

The other benefit of living in San Jose, apparently, is the serotonin:

San Jose averages 300 sunny days a year, so residents soak up mood-boosting serotonin and vitamin D (five to 30 minutes in the sun twice a week is all you need).

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It helps regulate the cardiovascular and muscular systems, and parts of the endocrine system. And some research has suggested that low levels of serotonin may be linked to the onset of depression. While sunlight may help boost serotonin production, it does not account for the sole means of your serotonin supply. Your body naturally produces serotonin in levels that are related to diet, exercise and stress. Just so we're clear, "soaking" up the sunlight is not the only way to get serotonin--in fact, you've probably got the right supply already. Not that there's anything wrong with getting some fresh air and exercise and enjoying the sunlight (while wearing sunscreen), but living in San Jose will not necessarily restore your body's chemical balance.

Next, we learn that women in Seattle, Washington are least likely to die from heart disease. The large number of organic fruit markets are recognized for their role in encouraging women to make healthier food and snack choices. Again, the same argument applies as above: moving to a place with green markets may eventually encourage you to purchase your produce from these establishments, but only if you're interested in fruit in the first place. While we all know we should be eating fruits and vegetables, many of us aren't getting enough, and it has nothing to do with supply.

Heading to the Midwest, Minneapolis, Minnesota is recognized as having one of the lowest breast cancer rates:

With 929 lakes and 13 miles of paved shoreline paths in the Minneapolis St.Paul area, it's not surprising that Minneapolis has the fourth-highest number of female joggers as well as one of the lowest breast-cancer death rates.

Physical exercise may indeed reduce the risk of breast cancer but as Sci pointed out earlier this year, you don't need specifically designated trails to take advantage of ambulatory activities: people in urban areas tend to walk more--without the benefit of trails--because they can walk more. If you live in rural or suburban areas, it becomes harder to simply walk to places because many business and commercial establishments are located farther away from residential neighborhoods. In urban environments, this isn't the case. You can walk to the grocery or to the gym or to your salon or bookstore. Having the natural space set aside is nice, but it shouldn't be the only motivation to get out there and move.

If you're more concerned about finding a partner, then Women's Health suggests you want to consider living in a colder environment. Fargo, North Dakota boasts 79 females for every 100 men. This greatly increases your chances of finding a partner of the opposite sex--whose interests include cuddling on those cold wintry nights. Then again, Nick Gilder seemed to think that there were more hot, youthful women in the city:

Perhaps this might attract more hot, youthful men as well and help shift detrimental ratios?

And finally, Women's Health advises that you may live longer in Lincoln, Nebraska where the fresh air will surely do you some good. You'd be away from city life, but a recent study has revealed that this might put you at risk for infectious diseases:

In ancient cities, poor sanitation and high population densities would have provided an ideal breeding ground for the spread of disease. Natural selection should mean that humans would have developed resistance to disease in long-standing urbanised populations over time.

In addition, it may take you longer to get medical assistance in some rural areas.

We've heard from Women's Health, but what if I told you that you could increase your chances for all of these things--wherever you lived?

All that it would really require would be some lifestyle changes.


Think about it: What specific health advice has Women's Health offered readers here? These are general tips that can be practiced anywhere--they are not exclusive to any one locale. There are factors in each location that may encourage certain behaviors more frequently. For example, since it is sunnier in San Jose than in other parts of the country, you may spend more time participating in outdoor activities, and you may be more likely to buy fruits from the fruit markets in Seattle, or perhaps enjoy the abundance of trails in Minneapolis for running, or walking, or biking. But you can do any of these things wherever you live! In general, good health is linked to regular physical exercise, making healthy food choices, getting enough sleep, having an active social life, and refraining from unhealthy habits. What Women's Health has done here is connect some touristy bits of information to general scientific knowledge.

Now, while you're unpacking, I'll say this: I've taken a fairly light tone with the information above, but your environment has as much of an impact on your well-being as you have on its well-being, and that's something you should consider for your long-term living arrangements. There are trade-offs: Urban environments are some of the safest and diverse, but they can also be stressful. Lifestyle is a huge factor in terms of health and happiness, and all of these factors should be considered when you decide to put down roots. It's a personal decision, not one that a magazine should induce you to make.

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