Philosophers, scholars, and poets have searched for the ingredients of a good life since the beginning of time. Ask the folks at U.S. News and World Report, and they’ll tell you that living a healthy life really comes down to the factors of equity, education, and housing. According to research based on 84 indicators, the 20,000 residents of Los Alamos County, New Mexico, have made a home in the healthiest community in America.
Leading up to World War II, a top-secret part of Los Alamos known as White Rock became the United States headquarters for developing the atomic bomb. Flash forward nearly 100 years, and the community thrives thanks to nuclear research institution Los Alamos National Laboratory and the surrounding landscape replete with scenic hiking trails and endless vistas. In Los Alamos County, soaking up the soothing, brain-massaging benefits of sunshine and nature is as easy as stepping out of your front door.
Access to the natural world isn’t the only factor that gives Los Alamos residents a leg up in the wellness department. They have a distinct advantage when it comes to accessing the resources that help you stay well within the United States. Almost 40 percent of the county has a master’s degree or higher, most residents have insurance access, and the county’s median income level is extremely high. While those aren’t the only indicators of health, they do make a major difference in creating a foundation for one’s well-being.
Below, you’ll find the three guiding principals that the people of Los Alamos have to share with the rest of us who are just trying to figure out this life. You can never have too many longevity tips, right?
What to learn about longevity from the healthiest community in America
1. Venture into the great outdoors—and do it often
One of my favorite facts about Los Alamos is that most everyone has a trailhead minutes from their doorstep. That means hikes, camping, climbing, trail running, and marshmallow-roasting are all on the docket—and what could be better?
This aspect of Los Alamos plays into the health category US News and World Reports refers to as “environment,” or the air and water, natural environment, and natural hazards that envelope the place you live. While all three factors obvious aren’t in our hands, let the Los Alamos people remind you that any green space deserves your love and attention—and you will get so much from it.
2. Eat fresh and healthy foods
The folks of Los Alamos have access to healthy, fresh food—despite the fact that they’re nestled in a pretty secluded location. (Remember, it was an atomic bomb building site.) Of course, healthy eating looks different for different people, but generally speaking, dietitians recommend filling your plate with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Bonus points for taking your meal to the nearest trailhead and eating in the nook of a tree for double the benefits.
Here’s what you need to know about intuitive eating:
3. Belong to a community, not just a county
The residents of Los Alamos county go all-in on creating community (especially in non-pandemic times). With $5 group swimming classes, squads of triathletes, and plenty of group outdoor activities, the Los Alamos community believes in living a better life together. Right now, joining a triathlon team or swimming at your local pool might not be an option—but you can still make pals online who can become your friends once this is all behind us or enlist your quarantine pod for (safe, socially-distanced) outdoor adventures right now.
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