If you wanted to create a city full of healthy, happy people, you would need to start by locating it in the West, according to a huge new study.
Boulder, Colo., came out at the top of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which interviewed more than 350,000 people during 2009 and asked them about their jobs, their health, their general sense of well-being, their financial situation and their communities.
Other cities in the top 10 were Holland-Grand Haven, Mich.; Honolulu, Hawaii’; Provo-Orum, Utah; Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif.; Santa Barbara-Santa Maria Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; the Washington, D.C. area; Ogden, Utah and Thousand Oaks., Calif.
"Most of our highest-scoring cities are found out West and most of our lowest-scoring cities are in the South," research director Dan Witters told USA Today. From the story:
“Residents of large cities — those with a population of 1 million or more — generally report higher levels of well-being and more optimism about the future than those in small or medium-sized cities. In small cities, at 250,000 or less, people are more likely to feel safe walking alone at night and have enough money for housing.
“The study provides a city-by-city portrait of the nation's mood and a potential tool for policymakers.
“Nine of the 10 cities that fare best on "life evaluation," assessments of life now and expectations in five years, boast a major university, a big military installation or a state Capitol — institutions that presumably provide some insulation from recession.”
The study ranked 162 cities. Those at the bottom were Bakersfield, Calif.; Pensacola, Fla.; Morgantan, N.C.; Shreveport, La., Evansville, Ky.; Bristol, Tenn-Va., Youngstown, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; Charleston, W. Va.; Modesto, Calif. and the Huntington, W. Va area.
"Boulder is a place where a lot of like-minded people are attracted to living in a community with like-minded others," John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa, an Ayurvedic retreat in Boulder, told the Denver Post.