Living in a big city has its ups and downs, and living a healthy lifestyle can be either easy or hard— depending on what city you live in. It’s commonly thought that people living in larger cities are healthier than people living in smaller cities, and this is true to an extent.
For example, the top 10 healthiest U.S. cities are San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Austin, Denver, South Burlington (Vermont), and Washington DC. On the other hand, cities like Jackson (Mississippi), Memphis, Montgomery, Detroit, New Orleans, Little Rock, Fort Worth, and Kansas City (Missouri) are some examples of big cities that rank as some of the unhealthiest cities.
So how does one stay healthy in a big city? Here are three tips on staying healthy while living in or visiting a big city, and these tips can be applied to smaller cities as well.
#1: Try New Restaurants
Everyone has the usual restaurants that they like to go to, and in big cities, some of the most popular restaurants include McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. These aren’t the healthiest foods, but the good news is that big cities have local restaurants that cater to different cultures and even different diets. For example, the vegan diet (which excludes animal-based foods) is very healthy— particularly if you make sure you’re getting all of your necessary nutrients. Chicago has many gourmet vegan restaurants, such as:
- Fancy Plants Kitchen and Cafe
- The Chicago Diner
- Soul Veg City
- Kitchen 17
- Plant Junkie
- Vegan World Cafe
Health food restaurants and stores are a huge and emerging trend in many big cities across the country, so you can still make healthy choices, even when you eat out. Just keep in mind that restrictive diets like veganism can be harder to maintain in smaller cities because there’s not always as many options as in bigger cities. However, you can still make healthy diet choices by limiting the number of refined carbs, sugar, and saturated fats you eat, and replacing them with complex carbs, fruits, and unsaturated fats.
#2: Sleep at Least Seven Hours Each Night
Getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night (for adults) is an important part of being healthy. Big cities are notorious for being noisy all day and also all through the night, which can make getting adequate sleep difficult. This may only be a temporary problem when visiting a big city but can lead to serious sleep problems (such as insomnia) when living in a big city. So how can you get better quality sleep when living in a big city?
If noise is the issue, look into earplugs or earbuds to help drown out the noise of the big city. Blackout curtains to block out lights (and can also block some noise) may also be helpful. You can even try a white noise machine to drown out some of the outside noise, and they also help with sleep. Other tips to help with sleep include:
- Limiting screen time before bed
- Eating/drinking foods/drinks that help with sleep quality (e.g., bananas, chamomile tea, kiwi, passionflower tea, etc.)
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed
- Exercise, but not right before bed
#3: Get Out and Explore More
The majority of big cities are very densely packed, and not just the people. Buildings are built closer together, making it easy to walk to your destination, particularly if you live within the city limits. So if you’re able to, start walking instead of driving to your destinations.
Another option is to ride a bicycle, which is faster than walking but will also provide you with some exercise. Just be careful when riding a bicycle through a big city, as bicycle accidents are common in larger victims like Chicago, Tampa, Sacramento, and Savannah (Georgia). Although most bicyclists aren’t at fault in an accident, it’s still important to practice basic bike safety, such as wearing a helmet and following all traffic laws.
Eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all major components of staying healthy, no matter where you live. However, where you live can present some challenges when it comes to being healthy, whether you live in a big, noisy city or a small, isolated town. The good news is that you have options when it comes to living healthily, and if all else fails, you can move to another location (if you’re able to).