Tulsa Voted #1 Unhealthiest City! Wha…?

SELF Magazine (Dec. 2012) has ranked Tulsa, OK as the #1 UNHEALTHIEST overall city for women. I was going to write about today being National Clean Your Refrigerator Day, but now I’ll I’m going to say about that is — better clean the fattening, processed, nasty stuff out of your refrigerator and get healthy! Our city was described this way: “Tulsa, OK. Poor habits, high disease risk and life expectancy is falling.” Yes, you read that right — life expectancy in Tulsa for women is falling (their emphasis). The other cities were, in order, Jackson, MS; Detroit, MI; Louisville, KY; St. Louis, MO; Little Rock, AR; Memphis, TN; Birmingham, AL; Las Vegas, NV; and Oklahoma City, OK. The healthiest city is San Jose, CA.

Being in a community of runners and people who generally take care of themselves, I was shocked to see that we were #1. Look at all the running and bike trails we have in the city. Farmers Markets are burgeoning. We have relatively mild weather and nice parks. Maybe we’re not exactly the most walkable city, but bikiing and walking  in certain areas of the city are at least possible. Maybe a reliable mass transit system would help us, too.

What criteria did SELF use?, you may be asking. Well, the staff looked at “55 things that keep you healthy, then asked an all-star panel to rank them. The message: Your choices matter most.” They looked at things such as FRIENDS, SLEEP and CHECKUPS (the top three). OK, I get FRIENDS as an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. My husband and I have friends that we run with, so running is a social thing for us just as much as it is exercise. And there are so many ways to get involved in running (or walking) in Tulsa. Fleet Feet has tons of training groups for ALL LEVELS, for example. I know lots of people who bike — plenty of groups there as well. What about the YMCA and YWCA? They have some great programs, as does the Tulsa Parks. I go to a super-fun, inexpensive ZUMBA class every Wed. at 6 at Whiteside Community Center. SELF points out that friends protect you emotionally, keep your mind fit and keep you happy and calm so you’re less likely to suffer from dementia or heart disease. So, if you’re looking for MOMS GROUPS to get involved with so you can get out of the house, go to our calendar every month and get involved in some socializing! It’s good for you. Or join me for ZUMBA on Wed. nights.

Sleep was another biggie. Sleep is tough once you have kids. I don’t know if I slept through the night for five or six years. But lack of sleep can not only make you grouchy, it can make you fat. According to SELF, “Losing even a half hour of sleep wrecks your mood and weakens your resolve to eat well and exercise.” OK, so don’t feel guilty about getting in your zzzzz’s Tulsa women!

The third most important thing that the SELF panel noted was CHECKUPS. While paps and mammograms were listed as important tests, the annual physical was stated as the most important. I’ll admit that I’m great at getting a yearly gynecological exam, but terrible at getting a full physical. It takes time and, for many of us with less than fabulous insurance, it’s expensive. These preventative measures where doctors get an idea of lifestyle, weight, blood sugar and more are critical to overall health and to catching diseases or illnesses early, while they’re still treatable (and probably less expensive to treat). That’s why I don’t get the whining about the Affordable Care Act. I’m happy to get free screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies thanks to the ACA. And, since we’re so unhealthy, wouldn’t it be great if Gov. Fallin takes the medicaid expansion so more people (including kids!) can get early screenings and stay on top of their healthcare needs. It will save us tons of money in emergency room visits and other expensive healthcare costs.

Things like less smoking and cleaner air make healthier cities, too. SELF pointed to Asheville, NC where only 14% of women smoke, there’s 87% less pollution than average, so people in Asheville have less than half the asthma rate of other cities. Conversely, El Paso, TX has 11% more STDs than average, is 99th out of 100 for Pap Smears and 3 people out of 10 don’t have insurance coverage. As a result, women in El Paso have a 79% higher death rate from cervical cancer than other cities.

Want to know the healthiest cities for women? They are: #1 San Jose, CA; 2. Bethesda, MD; 3. San Francisco, CA; 4. Santa Barbara, CA; 5. Honolulu, HI; 6. Santa Ana, CA; Minneapolis, MN; 8. Fargo, ND; 9. Portland, ME; 10. Burlington, VT.

So, what do you think, ladies? Let’s get moving and get Tulsa off this list.

Categories: Editor’s Blog