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Fitness Articles  ›  Family & Lifestyle

Slim in the City

Make Your Urban Lifestyle a Healthy One

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
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The hottest restaurants, the best museums, the latest trends: City living puts the good life at your fingertips. But with those perks often come long commutes, even longer work hours, cramped living quarters, and hectic schedules, all of which can make it even more difficult to fit in healthy habits.

Research shows that city dwellers walk at least 15 minutes more than suburbanites, but that doesn't necessarily mean that urbanites are healthier. In its annual survey of the fittest and fattest cities in America, Men's Health magazine this year ranked the three largest cities—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—in the list of 25 fattest cities. And a 2006 survey found those who lived in Chicago had body mass indexes (BMIs) similar to those of people who lived in the Windy City's farthest suburbs, while the residents of nearby suburbs were slimmer.

Considering that about half of the world lives in a city these days, you can't use urban surroundings as an excuse for being unhealthy. Play up the pros of city life, watch out for the unhealthy dangers, and an urban environment can be just the ticket to a happier, healthier, lighter you.

Con: Trying to exercise in a small apartment is difficult.
Make it work: You can make your limited space work for you.
  • Love to run? Then head outside. Is Pilates your thing? Use a DVD and clear a spot on the floor. Into strength training? Fitness opportunities that require little to no space abound. Try: DVDs, dumbbells and resistance bands for strength training, mini trampolines for "rebounding" cardio. Get more small-space fitness ideas.
     
  • Think of the stairs in your apartment or your office as a built-in cardio machine. Climbing 5, 10, or even 20 flights of stairs seems daunting, but it's just like using a stair-climber at the gym. Have a competitive streak? Plenty of cities now offer "stair climb" races, so sign up for one and start training. Continued ›
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

Member Comments

  • I live on a farm...in the country of course. Downside is we lives several miles to the nearest city. Takes almost 30 minutes to get to work. I use videos, youtube, or the walk track my husband made for me out back. - 10/7/2013 10:31:49 PM
  • I walk all the time. When I go on vacation I do alot of walking instead of driving. I love to walk. That's just me. - 9/13/2013 9:34:04 PM
  • Working in Portland Oregon, I'm able to find "fast" food at the outdoor food carts that is quite often healthier than what I'd fix at home. We have 200 plus miles of trails, I wonder if I'll ever make it to them all! - 2/14/2013 6:20:28 PM
  • I live in a NYC suburb and work in Manhattan and I feel like Manhattanites are slimmer than my suburban neighbors. I think the reason why NYC was ranked as a "fat" city is because it probably counted all 5 boroughs of NYC. The truth of the matter is that a lot of people who live in the outer boroughs (meaning not Manhattan) fall into the lower socioeconomic classes. Those who are poor tend to be more overweight. The people who live in Manhattan tend to fall into higher socioeconomic classes (hello? they can afford to live in Manhattan) and these are the people I see who tend to be slimmer. So the question isn't necessarily of city vs suburban living (although I think that in general suburban living does mean people sit on their behinds more and are therefore less active) but rather poor vs wealthy. - 6/8/2012 11:55:16 AM
  • I think it's MUCH easier to get in a reasonable amount of walking if one lives in a city - at least, if you're in an area that allows you to walk to most/many of your destinations. It can be harder in smaller/mid-size cities where zoning restrictions may isolate housing from commercial spaces. I strongly believe that we need to re-think our views on zoning as well as prioritizing sidewalks in future roadway improvements. - 7/9/2011 4:30:25 PM
  • I don't see it - I was just saying last weekend that everywhere I went in NYC there were healthy, slim people! I walked 15 miles in 2 days (tracked, not an estimate) and we didn't even do that much! Perhaps the unhealthy factors come more from things like pollution and stress? - 5/19/2011 10:16:35 AM
  • I'm moving to the city (small city) in the next few months, from a relatively rural area of retired people. I can't wait for the opportunities that await.

    Thanks for a great article.
    - 1/18/2011 11:49:06 PM
  • I lived in wonderful CHICAGO where I did a lot of walking, but then when I lived in Los Angeles, I had to DRIVE everywhere. - 6/11/2008 1:58:26 AM
  • I'm definitely healthier now that I've moved to a big city. I walk everywhere, or take public transportation, and only drive the car when absolutely necessary. Where I used to live, I lived only a mile from work, but couldn't walk because there weren't sidewalks and I would have been risking my life!

    And, all this walking has an added bonus - my carbon footprint is smaller!

    Plus, I don't really have the money to eat out a lot, so most of my meals are cooked from fresh ingredients.

    - 6/10/2008 5:29:45 PM
  • Something that I LOVE about living in our city neighborhood: Most of my errand destinations are within running/walking distance! Most Saturday mornings I run with a sling bag to the post office, hardware store, grocery (we have two excellent smaller/cheaper markets within a few blocks), pharmacy. If I need to make more purchases than I can carry, I take a little cart. The church we attend is just 6 blocks from us, & most of the members live here in the neighborhood. I take public transportation to work, which means I do some fast walking every weekday to & from the train & bus. I have dumbbells, resistance band, & several exercise videos/DVDs at home. This summer I'm doing my strength training on the back porch, surrounded by flowers & herbs in pots & with a view of our building's peaceful garden. And if I want to run just to run, I have my choice of the lakefront or the sidewalks of our neighborhood, all lined with trees.

    After living in suburbs for many years, I absolutely love city life & find that it really is MORE conducive to my health overall. - 6/10/2008 12:17:49 PM
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