Does living in Boston make you a healthier person?
Not quite — but some new research suggests that efforts to keep Boston walkable and bikeable might keep us healthier and happier than the average American urban dweller.
Researchers from Gallup and Healthways, a company that explores ways to encourage healthier behavior, found that “communities that invest in bike paths, parks, walkability and public transit...have residents with better outcomes in key aspects of well-being.”
They named the Greater Boston area the top “active living community” in the United States, followed by San Francisco and Chicago.
The two other East Coast cities in the top five were New York and Washington, which respectively ranked fourth and fifth.
The study, part of Healthways' State of American Well-Being series, examined the infrastructure of 48 medium- to large-size metro communities throughout the country.
Those living in the top five cities are found to have, on average, “significantly lower rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression; and significantly higher rates of exercise, healthy eating, fresh produce consumption,” the study says.
Indiana and Oklahoma each have two of the lowest active living communities, with Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Tulsa ranking in the bottom five.
The cities toward the bottom of the list had significantly more health problems than the ones recorded in the top five, according to the survey.