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AARP the Magazine Names the Top 10 Healthiest Places to Live in America

- Ann Arbor, Michigan Takes Top Honors as the #1 Healthiest City to Live and Retire In -

WASHINGTON, July 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with more than 34 million readers, today announced the top ten healthiest cities to live and retire in with Ann Arbor, MI, Honolulu, HI, Madison, WI, Santa Fe, NM, and Fargo, ND taking the top five rankings. Featured in the September/October issue, the magazine also named five additional cities that received high marks for vitality and great living conditions including Boulder, CO, Charlottesville, VA, San Francisco Bay Area, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, and Naples-Marco Island, FL.

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AARP The Magazine evaluated over 20 measures of vitality to help make its decisions and incorporated not only the physical aspects of a community (clean air and water), but also the health and habits of people who live there, taking into special consideration the health needs of people age 50+. Communities were chosen based on various criteria including opportunities for exercise, number of doctors in the area, availability of healthcare, diagnosis of health problems, healthy eating habits, and more. The magazine also evaluated quality of life measures such as housing affordability, the local economy, educational resources, crime, climate, recreational amenities, and arts and culture to help make their selections.

"The cities we chose are ahead of the healthy living curve with access to healthcare facilities, numerous options for exercise, activities, volunteerism, and a culture that supports vitality," said Nancy Graham, Acting Editor of AARP The Magazine. "This has become one of AARP The Magazine's most popular annual features and it's exciting to be the authority on the top cities for retirement at a time when more Americans than ever are approaching that milestone."

AARP The Magazine's Top 10 Healthiest Cities to Live and Retire for 2008:

1. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Fully 86% of residents exercise daily; the city boasts 580 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to the U.S. average of 223; it is home to The University of Michigan Health Center - one of the largest university medical centers in the world and creator of the first human genetics program in the U.S. in 1940.

2. Honolulu, Hawaii: An impressive 95% of residents are covered by health insurance; residents spend more time exercising than almost any other city surveyed; locals have one of the highest rates of life expectancy among surveyed cities.

3. Madison, Wisconsin: Residents have low rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol; here you'll find big city advantages with a small-town feel; Madison hosts an extensive bus system, numerous bike trails and a wide-range of sporting activities.

4. Santa Fe, New Mexico: The city ranked #2 in the U.S. in air quality by the American Lung Association; the rates of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol are among the lowest in the country, in part because of a city-funded health campaign aimed at older residents.

5. Fargo, North Dakota: Ranks #9 in the nation for regular flossing and brushing; it has one of the best air-quality-index scores, uses biodiesel fuel to power its transit buses, and it has made a serious commitment to incorporate methane-powered generators, solar panels, and wind generators into the city's infrastructure.

6. Boulder, Colorado: This home to more than 130 miles and 45,000 acres of open space and pristine wilderness at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains attracts environment and health-conscious residents; it is one of the nation's healthiest cities with extremely low rates of smoking and obesity (BMI of 24.94).

7. Charlottesville, Virginia: The one-time home of Thomas Jefferson ranks in the top ten cities for family-practice doctors, oncologists and cardiologists; it ranks fourth among U.S. metropolitan areas in the number of physicians per capita.

8. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota: Residents rank among the top ten in the country for share of residents who exercise regularly; Minnesota is ranked the #1 state in the nation for the overall quality of its healthcare by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

9. San Francisco Bay Area, California: Residents are among the least likely to be overweight and smoke; last year, the city of San Francisco launched Healthy San Francisco, an initiative that offers free or subsidized health care to uninsured residents.

10. Naples-Marco Island, Florida: Residents received very high scores for regular exercise, healthy eating and not smoking; the area has one of the lowest cancer mortality rates in the country; Naples-Marco Island has the second most golf holes per capita in the country.

AARP The Magazine's special report examines which cities excelled in key areas of longevity, vitality, and wellness. Ames, IA was the city with the longest life expectancy, 81.02 years, followed by Naples-Marco Island, FL with 80.97 years. Ames, IA, also topped the list of cities with the highest percentage of people able to afford healthcare, at 97.9% and Johnston, PA, was second on that list at 96.2%. In a key measure of health, average body mass index (BMI), Boulder, CO topped the list as the skinniest city, with a 24.94 BMI, followed by Santa Fe, NM, which had an average BMI of 25.50. Of cities with the greenest commuters, Ithaca, NY, was highest on the list with 16.88% of commuters biking or walking to work.

Full criteria included: Cardiac mortality rates (age-adjusted), prescriptions for control of hypertension, cholesterol (per capita), physician diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity (BMI), smoking cigarettes, alcohol use, access to affordable healthcare, physicians and cardiologists in area (per capita), fast food outlets (per capita), state legislation for smoke-free workplaces and public places, percent having a health plan, percent unable to afford health care, percent of residents who had a recent routine checkup, healthy eating (salads, fruits, vegetable servings per day), regular exercise, commuting by bicycle or walking, stress index (indicators include depression, divorce, suicide, crime, unemployment, etc.), teaching hospitals (per capita), hospital beds available (per capita), and hospitals with emergency rooms. Sources included CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality File (2000-2004), Medical Marketing Services, CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey (2004-2006), AMA membership rolls (2007), Info USA, database of establishments (2007), Americans for Nonsmokers Rights - compilation (2007), U.S. Census, Claritas, Inc., Sperling's BestPlaces analysis, American Hospital Directory (2008).

Additional information about this year's selections can be found in the September/October issue of AARP The Magazine or online at

For a copy of the magazine or to speak with an AARP The Magazine editor, please contact Meghan Holston, Coburn Communication, 212.382.4450 or

About AARP The Magazine

With more than 34 million readers nationwide, AARP The Magazine ( is the world's largest circulation magazine and the definitive lifestyle publication for Americans 50+. Reaching over 23.5 million households, AARP The Magazine delivers comprehensive content through in-depth celebrity interviews, health and fitness features, consumer interest information and tips, book and movie reviews and financial guidance. Published bimonthly in print and continually online, AARP The Magazine was founded in 1958 and is the flagship title of AARP Publications.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 33 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 39 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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