Using the Power of Place to Achieve Optimal Weight Loss

Asheville, the home of What Part of You Is Hungry?, was recently designated by Prevention magazine as one of the best US cities for weight loss. Their research points to the role that place plays in how we care and feed our bodies.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2014 Culture of Health Prize.

Of course, not everyone can live in a top-ranking weight loss city. But these cities tell us something about how to create an environment that facilitates our weight loss goals, regardless of where we live. What do high-ranking weight loss cities have that other places do not? Here are a few factors that seem to make a difference.

images4XF2DDFEFarmers Markets

Cities that rank high for weight loss have accessible farmers markets, places where people can by fresh produce. Especially for folks who are reluctant to incorporate more vegetables into their diet, farmers markets can make all of the difference in the world. Seasonal produce tastes great, and getting to know who grew your food is an added bonus.

imagesUP6XEB38Active Lifestyles

What do people do for leisure where you live? In the healthiest cities, exercise is a favorite way people unwind and relax. Whether through a walk with friends or a casual bike ride, movement is key in having fun. In the most fit locations, the gym is only one place to be active. Parks, greenways, and local attractions, like the Biltmore House property in Asheville, provide opportunities for getting in and staying in shape.

images3V2DNW6LA Sense of Community

Friendly communities tend to be healthy communities. Stress, isolation, and tension often drive mindless eating or binge TV watching. Slowing down to volunteer, visit with a friend or offering help to a neighbor indicate a commitment to building community and to personal health, too.

For people who are fortunate enough to live in places that support a healthy, active lifestyle, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is easier. But you can make just about anywhere you live offer more opportunities for healthier eating and physical fun.  If you live in a location that is not particularly amenable to active lifestyles or lacks local farmers markets, think about making a commitment to building a sense of community on your own. Get your friends and family involved.

Take full advantage of the closest YMCA or YWCA, both organizations dedicated to strengthening community and healthy living. Think about organizing a food co-op, where the focus is on healthy food and bringing people together. Start an exercise group with motivated (and not-so-motivated) friends. Create family fitness challenges where fun and activity go hand in hand for everyone live.

What creative ideas might you have for making wherever you live “weight loss friendly?”

1 Comment
  1. Asheville is such a fantastic place! The key seems to be getting outside regardless of where you live. Using time with friends for exercise through a walk or a day on a local lake would be great ideas too.

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