Big cities are healthier, report finds

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Find out more about where your city ranks here.

Researchers from Gallup in partnership with Healthways, a company that says it uses science to encourage healthier behavior, examined infrastructure data from 48 USA cities and their surrounding areas.

The team evaluated which cities had the best "active living environments" by looking at bike lanes, public transit, parks and the level to which each city was walkable.

A new survey was conducted to find where the happiest and healthiest residents in the USA lived and the results were somewhat surprising. In reviewing the 149,938 telephone interviews that Gallup conducted with US adults, they also looked at corresponding health effects of those environments.

The American cities with the healthiest, happiest residents are Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., according to a new survey that scored communities on important health measures, NBC News reported.

A number of cities in the states of Indiana, Oklahoma and North Carolina cities ranked among the worst for active living communities, according to the survey. Cities with the lowest scores were found to have higher rates of negative health conditions including depression, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and smoking. While a better public transport infrastructure was correlated with "lower daily physical pain".

For instance, the community of Albert Lea in Minnesota boosted its well-being score when it established 10 miles of new sidewalks and bike lanes.

Still, researchers believe that smaller cities can make changes in their infrastructure and catch up to larger cities. This enhanced the walkability of streets and the opportunity for physical activity.

"Clearly it has an affect on many issues we are faced with today including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure", Buchinksy said, adding that he hoped this report can show why rethinking the development in our cities and metro areas can be key to improving the health of the country.