What The Twin Cities Can Teach Us About Living Well via Huffington Post

Minneapolitans are not ones to brag, so those who haven’t spent time in the area would be surprised to know that Minneapolis and its twin city, St. Paul, are perennial winners on nationwide surveys of health, happiness, fitness and well-being.

How do they do it?

The Twin Cities are the most active metropolitan area in the country
Minneapolitans are an active bunch. Nearly 83 percent of residents were active every single day — and more than half of city residents got at least the government-recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, according to a survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine. The organization anointed the Minneapolis-St Paul area as the fittest city in the U.S. in 2012, thanks to the sportiness and overall good health of its residents.

Minneapolis boasts the best parks in the country
In June 2013, the Trust for Public Land ranked Minneapolis’ parks as the very best in the country, beating out New York, Chicago and San Francisco for acreage, access and, let’s face it, sheer beauty.

All those parks contribute to the public health, fostering relationships between citizens and nature and improving physical fitness by providing a free and pleasurable place to exercise. Parks can also help mitigate urban pollution, according to the American Planning Association, and help reenforce community ties — all important factors for citizen wellness.

12,000 Lakes
"Technically the slogan is ‘land of 10,000 lakes,’ but everyone from Minnesota knows it’s closer to 12,000," says HuffPost editor and native Minnesotan, Jordan Turgeon. We’re not just taking her word for it — an official government survey put the number of lakes at 11,842 statewide.

And while that staggering number refers to the entire state, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area boasts 22 distinct lakes and the Chain of Lakes park that covers 13.3 miles of water. Minneapolis is actually referred to as the “city of lakes.”

But why would lakes make you happier and healthier? While the health benefits of green space get more attention, there’s evidence that blue space — lakes, rivers, streams and oceans — can also have a positive influence over health and wellbeing, reported The Guardian.

High wages, low rent
"A reader asked me the other day for a Rent Is Too Damn High perspective on what city he should live in," wrote Slate columnist Matthew Yglesias. "On one level, it’s a complicated question. On another level, the answer is that you should move to Minneapolis."

Twin Cities residents earn about 23 percent above the average national household income, but their rent prices remain below the average of America’s major metropolitan areas. In an index of housing affordability, Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked as cheaper than comparable cities like Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, both Portlands (Maine and Oregon) and Austin, according to the Center for Housing Policy and the National Housing Conference.

They’ve been smoke-free since way back
Minnesota enacted a state-wide ban of smoking in all workplaces in 2007, but the phase-out began several decades earlier when the state passed the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act in 1975, making it the first to ban smoking in most public places and require designated non-smoking sections in restaurants, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

Unemployment is low — and that means better mental health
Minneapolis now has the lowest unemployment of any major metropolitan area, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.As if the stress of looking for a job weren’t enough, unemployment is actually linked to a overall increased risk of poor health and even mortality.

Minneapolitans are bookworms
Minneapolis ranks in the top three most literate cities, thanks to a high density of bookstores, high newspaper circulation and a well-read populace. And, as we’ve recently explored, reading can contribute to better sleep, better cognitive function and improved stress release.

It doesn’t hurt that Minneapolis is friendly to writers, according to a Ploughshares report, with great libraries, cafes and citywide WiFi plans that allow you to get connected from anywhere.

  1. Camera: Canon EOS 5D
  2. Aperture: f/9
  3. Exposure: 1/40th
  4. Focal Length: 160mm

It’s stressful enough for coaches and athletes competing at a state tournament, but how about trying to save someone’s life just before you are supposed to compete?

It happened last week at the State Dance competition at the Target Center in Minneapolis when a 1-year-old boy stopped breathing.

The Fridley dance team considers themselves one big family. So just before they performed last Friday night, Coach Angela Burkhardt-Bixby put her 1-year-old son Colton in the hands of freshman dancer Lizzy Streitz so she could go to the bathroom.

“He’s one of those kids who falls asleep in whoever is holding him in their arms,” said Streitz.

This time Colton didn’t fall asleep. Instead, he stopped breathing and began turning blue. Not knowing what was wrong, Streitz began yelling for help.

“We heard screaming in the hallway- ‘He’s not breathing! He’s not breathing! Somebody please help,’” said Jen Stumm, coach of the Zumbrota-Mazeppa dance team. Stumm’s team was getting ready to go on the floor when she saw Streitz running towards her.

“Things are moving so fast at that point you don’t have the chance to stop and think about what’s really going on. You just do,” said Stumm.

The two teams started working together to save Colton’s life. Streitz called 911 and Jen, along with her assistant coaches, began using her CPR training.

After minutes of frantically giving Colton chest compressions, he began to breathe and then cry.

“That was the best sound we could have heard,” Stumm said.

He was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where doctors determined he had a febrile seizure due to a fever, but said he will be okay.

“I’m just happy he’s better and is his usual playful self,” said Streitz.

Colton’s mom said the Target Center staff also played a big role in helping their son, as they made sure they got to the ambulance okay.

Doctors said Colton won’t have any long-term health problems.

The Twin Cities Minneapolis-St. Paul are the healthiest, fittest cities in the USA, followed by Washington, D.C., and Boston, according to a new analysis of the 50 most populous metro areas.

"It takes a healthy community to produce a healthy population, and Minneapolis-St. Paul is a beautiful place to live if you’re interested in a physically active lifestyle," says Barbara Ainsworth, president-elect of the sports medicine group and a professor in Arizona State University’s exercise and wellness program in Phoenix.

Source: American Fitness Index from the American College of Sports Medicine Among the reasons the Twin Cities ranked No. 1: a lower-than-average obesity rate, an above-average percentage of residents who exercise, a relatively low smoking rate and moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Plus the area has lots of parks and recreational facilities.

Minneapolis was one of the first cities to have organized bicycle trails and to prohibit smoking in public places, she says, and it has many parks and public golf courses.

Almost 16% of land in the city is park land vs. an average of 10% in other cities across the country, Ainsworth says. “The parks are filled with baseball diamonds, tennis courts, walking trails so there are many different ways to be active.”

Nice to see some good news for the Twin Cities right about now. You’ll also be happy to know that our “Top Ten List” archenemy Portland came in fourth place.

*clears throat*

Suck on that Portland.

(Source: USA Today)