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DC, Baltimore, Raleigh-Durham, among top ten cities for staying young

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Capitol BuildingSAN DIEGO–Want to live a longer life? Move to Salt Lake City, the DC-Balitmore area, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill,  San Francisco, or Austin. On the other hand, Knoxville and Nashville, TN, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Tampa and Jacksonville, FL, may make you old before your time. So says and new report by RealAge.

Southeast and western cities are among the top ten on RealAge’s list of the “youngest” cities in America—metropolitan areas with such healthy lifestyles that on average their residents are physically at least two years younger than their chronological age, and many are years younger than that. RealAge analyzed data from the largest 50 metropolitan areas to compile the rankings.

A passion for fitness and a loathing for smoking are key factors in Salt Lake City’s number one ranking. At the other extreme, residents of Knoxville, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, and Nashville are aging faster than they should. (Get an infographic of the 10 youngest and oldest cities here.)

What are the 10 metro areas where you have the best odds of staying young?

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Calif.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Denver, Colo.
5. Boston, Mass.
6. Washington, DC/Baltimore, Md.
7. San Diego, Calif.
8. Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C.
9. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
10. Seattle/Tacoma/Bremerton, Wash.

Which metro areas are likely to make you old before your time?

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C.
3. Nashville, Tenn.
4. Saginaw/Bay City/Midland, Mich.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.
7. Oklahoma City, Okla.
8. Las Vegas, Nev.
9. Jacksonville, Fla.
10. Tulsa, Okla.

“Each city’s ranking is more than just a number,” says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of RealAge and a co-creator of its test. “It’s a unique assessment of the healthy lifestyles, or lack of them, in each metro area—of how people live there, what they’re doing right and what they need to change. If you live in one of the 10 oldest cities, take this as the alarm on your body’s aging clock going off! It’s never too late for a fresh start.”

Note that half of the 10 youngest cities are in the Western U.S., from Denver to Seattle.

“Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the mountains, but Western cities have adopted active lifestyles that can slow down the aging process,” says Dr. Roach.

Behind the Rankings

To compile the rankings, RealAge analyzed data for America’s 50 largest metropolitan areas generated by its landmark online assessment, the RealAge Test, taken by over 27 million people. This is the first time the company has analyzed aggregated results on a city-by-city basis.

A random sample of 1,000 RealAge members was drawn from each city. The sample data was adjusted for age differences, so a metropolitan area that’s a magnet for retirees wasn’t penalized, and a city jammed with university students didn’t benefit.

The Test uses a powerful algorithm that combines the latest scientific studies with lifestyle, genetics, and medical history to calculate your RealAge—how old your body thinks you are.

What Makes a City Younger or Older

While multiple lifestyle factors are involved, here are four big ones that help people in Boston (the 5th youngest city), for example, stay younger and healthier than those in Cincinnati (the 5th oldest):

     
1.   Getting the right amount of sleep. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among those with stellar sleep habits. And (surprise) New York isn’t the city that never sleeps—the Big Apple ranks second in ZZZ’s; Austin is first. Sleeping six to nine hours a night can make your RealAge as much as 3 years younger.
2.   Stubbing out cigarettes for good. Four of the five fastest-aging cities have the highest percentage of smokers.
3.   Not sitting around. Six of the 10 youngest cities are among the most physically active in the country. A daily 30-minute walk can make your RealAge up to 3.5 years younger.
4.   Controlling your blood pressure. Five of the 10 fastest-aging cities—Knoxville, Cincinnati, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and Tulsa—are among the worst for high blood pressure. Nothing ages you faster. Who has the lowest BP? Residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul, the 9th youngest city.

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