The Diet Detective: 7 Lifestyle Choices to Stay Healthy and Happy

I know, the choices are not always easy, but at least think about the following as you live your life—your quality of life could depend on it.

Where You Choose to Live

You may not feel as if you have a choice as to where you live, but you do. And it matters.

For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live in the suburbs—and drive everywhere—weigh 6.3 pounds more than those who live in compact cities and are able to walk more. Also, living near the seaside or countryside is best for exercise, according to researchers from the University of Plymouth, England.

If you're looking for a new place to live, make sure to consider the following:

  • Are there suitable and scenic walking and hiking trails (which research shows encourage more walking) in your potential new area?
  • Does your neighborhood have public or private recreation facilities (such as parks with walking, hiking or biking paths)? Are they in good condition? Can you see yourself using them?
  • Are there local fitness centers and/or areas for water sports?
  • Does the local public school have any facilities you can use (a track and/or a pool)?
  • Does your shopping mall have walking programs?
  • Do concerns about safety at the recreation facilities in your community influence your using them? Do you have safety concerns about walking in your neighborhood? Have you thought about how you can overcome these safety issues?

Take a look at the American College of Sports Medicine's area fitness rankings, as well as Facebook's fitness rankings.

Finally, you should definitely take a look at the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program. It ranks the health of nearly every county in the nation.

More: 5 Fun Ways to Exercise Outside

Career/Job

Is it possible to increase your activity level just by changing jobs? Some jobs—such as mail carrier, firefighter and construction worker—can actually keep you in shape. However, many of us do not have active jobs. Here are a few things you can do to ramp up your activity level.

  • Casual is better: When you wear casual clothing you're likely to be more active.
  • Walk to work: Pick a home close to your job so you can walk or bike every day.
  • Have walking meetings: Instead of sitting around, have your meetings while you walk.
  • Stand tall: Hold meetings without chairs so participants are required to stand. Your meetings will probably become more time-efficient, too.
  • Use your head: Obtain a phone headset and pace during calls.
  • Old school: Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of e-mailing or calling.

More: Meetings on the Run

Dog vs. Cat

Yes, cats and dogs provide affection, and that can decrease the risk of disease and improve your overall health, but when it comes to increasing physical activity, dogs are the ticket.

There's something about getting out and walking with your dog, maybe it?s the fact that you need to walk your dog so it can do its business, or maybe it's so you can walk with your best friend. In any event, research supports the fact that dog owners walk more.

More: Best Dogs for Running

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