Kentucky election brings new hope for medical cannabis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT)

 

Kentucky election brings new hope for medical cannabis

Andy Beshear voiced strong support for reform throughout his campaign — contact your legislators today and urge them to work with the new governor to pass a medical cannabis law!

Dear Ted:

After years of frustration, advocates for medical cannabis may finally have their best chance to succeed in the 2020 legislative session. Newly elected Governor Andy Beshear has indicated that he strongly supports medical cannabis, so the challenge will be getting a bill through the legislature and to the governor’s desk.

Rep. Jason Nemes has already pre-filed a medical cannabis bill in advance of the legislative session, which begins January 7. Last year, the House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly approved a medical cannabis bill, but time ran out, and it never received a floor vote. Please write your legislators today and urge them to legalize medical cannabis in 2020!

After you write your legislators, please share this message with your friends and family.

Sincerely,


Matt Simon
Legislative Analyst
Marijuana Policy Project

 

 


 

Marijuana Policy Project
P.O. Box 21824​ | Washington, D.C. 20009
202-462-5747 | [email protected]

Scientists discover body’s protection shield

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF PHYSICS.ORG)

 

Scientists discover body’s protection shield

Scientists discover body’s protection shield
Image of a fly wound and inflammation. Credit: Helen Weavers

Scientists have discovered a way to manipulate the body’s own immune response to boost tissue repair. The findings, published in Current Biology today, reveal a new network of protective factors to shield cells against damage. This discovery, made by University of Bristol researchers, could significantly benefit patients undergoing surgery by speeding recovery times and lowering the risk of complication.

When a  is damaged, (either accidentally or through surgery), the body quickly recruits  to the injury site where they fight infection by engulfing and killing invading pathogens, through the release of toxic factors (such as unstable molecules containing oxygen known as “reactive oxygen species” e.g. peroxides). However, these bactericidal products are also highly toxic to the host tissue and can disrupt the repair process. To counteract these  the repairing tissue activates powerful protective machinery to “shield” itself from the damage.

Now, researchers from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry studying , have mapped the exact identities of these protective pathways and identified how to stimulate this process in naïve tissues.

Dr. Helen Weavers from Bristol’s Faculty of Life Sciences, and the study’s lead author, explains: “In healthy individuals, injured tissues normally quickly repair themselves following damage. Within a healing skin wound, a stress-response is activated that recruits , which in turn release a multitude of bacteriocidal factors, including  (ROS), to eliminate invading pathogens.

“In this study we used translucent fruit flies to watch wound repair live as it happens and follow the behavior of the recruited immune cells. In doing so, we uncovered a network of protective pathways which shield tissues from inflammatory damage and make repairing tissues more ‘resilient’ to stress. We also demonstrated that ectopic activation of these pathways further enhanced tissue protection, whilst their inhibition led to significant delays in wound closure.

“Now we know their identities and how they are activated, we hope to develop ways to stimulate this protective machinery in patients prior to elective surgery.”

The findings have clear clinical relevance to patients because therapeutic activation of these cyto-protective pathways in the clinic could also offer an exciting approach to ‘precondition’ patient tissues prior to elective surgery.

Dr. Weavers added: “We are now uncovering even more ‘resilience’ pathways that help to protect our body tissues from stress, both at sites of wounding and in other vulnerable organs that are often exposed to similar stressors. Since we find that the protection machinery is activated by the same pathways that also initiate the inflammatory response, we think the resilience machinery has evolved as a fail-safe mechanism for tissue protection each time inflammation is triggered.


Explore further

 

Adult fly intestine could help understand intestinal regeneration


More information: Helen Weavers et al. Injury Activates a Dynamic Cytoprotective Network to Confer Stress Resilience and Drive Repair, Current Biology (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.035

Journal information: Current Biology

Jimmy Carter Surgery: ‘No Complications’ In Bid To Relieve Pressure On His Brain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Jimmy Carter Surgery: ‘No Complications’ In Bid To Relieve Pressure On His Brain

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Former President Jimmy Carter had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain Tuesday. He’s seen here earlier this month, teaching Sunday school at his church in Plains, Ga.

John Amis/AP

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

Former President Jimmy Carter underwent surgery Tuesday morning to relieve pressure on his brain that was caused by bleeding from two recent falls, the Carter Center says. The former leader is now recovering from the operation.

“There are no complications from the surgery,” the center says. It adds that Carter will stay in the hospital for observation “for as long as advisable” by his doctors.

Carter, 95, was admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Monday evening for the procedure. He was accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn.

Carter has had three bad falls this year. On Oct. 21, he suffered a “minor pelvic fracture” after a fall in his Plains, Ga., home. In early October, he was left with a pronounced black eye after another fall. And in May, he broke his hip as he prepared to go turkey hunting, resulting in hip replacement surgery.

The fact that doctors waited overnight before doing surgery on President Carter suggests that the bleeding in his brain was slow, and that it probably began after one of several falls he’s taken in the past few weeks.

The Carter Center says the former president sustained a subdural hematoma — the most common sort of brain bleeding after a fall.

In older patients, even a relatively minor blow to the head can rupture veins along the dura mater, a tough membrane that lies between the skull and brain. As the blood builds up and clots, it can put pressure on the brain and can cause symptoms ranging from headaches to memory problems to seizures and paralysis.

To relieve pressure on the brain, doctors often make a small hole in the skull, then insert a tube to remove the blood. While the hospital has not released details about Carter’s operation, that is likely the procedure he had this morning.

For large clots, surgeons are more likely to remove an entire section of the skull, giving them direct access to the injured area.

Despite his recent injuries, Carter has maintained a busy schedule, making public appearances and building houses with Habitat for Humanity as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. He also regularly teaches Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in southwest Georgia.

Carter is the longest-lived U.S. president, and he is also a cancer survivor, having been successfully treated for melanoma that had spread to his liver and his brain, which was diagnosed in 2015.

Former President Jimmy Carter hospitalized to relieve pressure in brain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS)

 

Former President Jimmy Carter hospitalized to relieve pressure in brain

Former President Jimmy Carter was hospitalized Monday night for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain caused by bleeding, The Carter Center said in a statement. The bleeding was caused by Mr. Carter’s recent falls, the statement explained.

“President Carter is resting comfortably and his wife, Rosalynn, is with him,” according to the statement. The procedure will take place Tuesday morning at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The Carter Center

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CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said that the procedure is normally quick. “Basically, they’re just drilling a small hole in the brain and draining the fluid that is causing the pressure,” Agus told CBSN. “So the procedure itself — you could be in the operating room, say, an hour.”

Mr. Carter, who is 95, has had a number of health scares in recent years. In 2015, he announced he had been diagnosed with cancer that had spread to his liver and brain. He stepped back from responsibility at The Carter Center, but he continued teaching Sunday school classes in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. It’s a tradition he started in his teens that has gained a wide following.

But just six months later, he was treated with a new immunotherapy drug and made a remarkable recovery, announcing an MRI showed no signs of cancer and he needed no more treatment.

In May 2019, he suffered another health setback when he fell and broke his hip. Mr. Carter suffered two more falls in October 2019, and was hospitalized for a fractured pelvis.

Carter’s first October fall left him with a black eye and 14 stitches — but he nevertheless attended the opening ceremony for a Habitat for Humanity build in Nashville along with Rosalynn, who is 92. Less than two weeks after his second fall, he said he planned to return to teaching Sunday school.

In the Sunday school service that followed, Mr. Carter told attendees he’s “at ease with death.”

After learning about his cancer in 2015, he said he “assumed, naturally, that I was going to die very quickly.”

“I, obviously, prayed about it. I didn’t ask God to let me live, but I just asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death. And I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death. It didn’t really matter to me whether I died or lived,” Mr. Carter said. “I have, since that time, been absolutely confident that my Christian faith includes complete confidence in life after death. So, I’m going to live again after I die — Don’t know what form I’ll take, or anything.”

This spring, Mr. Carter surpassed George H.W. Bush as the longest-lived U.S. president in history. The Carters recently became the longest married presidential couple, surpassing George and Barbara Bush, with more than 73 years of marriage.

China approves sale of home-grown new Alzheimer’s drug

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China approves sale of home-grown new Alzheimer’s drug

Xinhua

A home-grown drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease has been approved by the National Medical Products Administration to hit the market, according to its developers Saturday.

The drug, GV-971, was developed by Ocean University of China, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under Chinese Academy of Sciences and Green Valley Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, after research efforts of 22 years.

A total of 1,199 persons participated in the three-phase clinical trials. The 36-week-long Phase 3 clinical study showed that the drug can improved cognition in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the developers said.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking ability, and the capability to carry out simple tasks. The disease affects about 48 million people worldwide, and the number is expected to increase with the aging population.

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Healthiest Countries in the World

When deciding where to live, most people consider the weather, job opportunities, and proximity to friends and family. One thing that might not be at the front of your mind is how healthy a particular location is. Health is a complicated analysis, taking into account physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index has done the heavy lifting. They’ve analyzed countries based on reliable indicators of good health such as life expectancy, and penalizing based on indicators of poor health, such as tobacco usage.

Read on to learn more about the seven healthiest countries in the world and what really sets them apart.

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Australia

Australia

Credit: PhotoAllel/ iStock

Australia is often thought of as an ideal place to live, from its beautiful beaches to the rustic outback. What isn’t immediately obvious is that Australia is also one of the healthiest places to live. In fact, it is one of the only English-speaking countries to rate in the top seven.

Australia has high marks for physical health. The Global Burden of Disease study ranked it 10th out of 188 countries, based on 33 health-related indicators. It received perfect scores for several indicators including war, malnutrition, water access, sanitation, and malaria.

In addition to several perfect scores, Australia also focuses on providing services for those who need them. Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. Australia also has effective tobacco control measures and a low infant mortality rate. All these factors combined lead to an impressive life expectancy – 80 years for men and 84.6 years for women. That leaves a lot of time for enjoying those beautiful beaches.

Sweden

Sweden

Credit: Raphael Andres/ Unsplash

It is easier for a country to come out on top of health rankings when the government makes healthcare a priority. This is definitely the case for Sweden, which was rated as the most health-conscious country in the world.  Healthcare is virtually free for all citizens until the age of 20.

In addition to great healthcare, Sweden prioritizes family. This begins before the baby is born, with free or subsidized courses for mothers to help them prepare for delivery. Sweden ensures that families can prioritize work and childcare by providing 16 months of parental leave for moms and dads. Even when parents go back to work, Sweden caps child care costs at approximately $150 a month for the first child.

Switzerland

Switzerland

Credit: Eva Bocek/ Shutterstock

Similar to other healthy countries, Switzerland has a healthcare system that is highly accessible. Basic healthcare coverage is mandatory in Switzerland and is structured so that everybody living in Switzerland has access to medical care.

A few things that set the Swiss healthcare system apart include:

  • Pre-existing conditions are not a basis for denying coverage
  • Coverage is subsidized by the government for individuals with low income
  • Patients get to choose their providers and do not need referrals to access specialists
  • The health of expectant mothers is prioritized, including prenatal care, delivery, and coverage for postpartum hospital stays and house calls

Switzerland’s prioritization on healthcare also allows it to boast the second highest life expectancy in the world — that’s something worth bragging about.

Japan

Japan

Credit: SeanPavonePhoto/ iStock

Only one country can tout a life expectancy higher than Switzerland, and that country is Japan. One factor that may contribute to this longevity is the Japanese diet.

One staple of the Japanese diet is seafood. The consumption of fish has been shown to lower risks associated with heart disease and to increase life span by 2.2 years. To accompany the physical benefits, diets filled with fish also promote mental well-being. Consumption of fatty fish has been shown to elevate mood.

Japan is also one of the top 10 tea drinking countries in the world. Tea, and green tea in particular, provides a multitude of health benefits. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer while also producing higher levels of cognitive function.

Iceland

Iceland

Credit: Mihai_Andritoiu/ Shutterstock

Iceland is another country that has a diet heavy in fish, meaning the population reaps benefits similar to the Japanese. Where Iceland really shines is in its environment. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rates Iceland as the top performance in environmental quality, with the best air quality and high levels of satisfaction with water quality.

The beauty of the physical environment also contributes to the health of Icelanders. They are motivated to get outdoors and exercise in such a gorgeous setting. While the citizens of Iceland regularly hit the gym, they also list ice climbing, rock climbing, mountain climbing, and kayaking as popular activities.

Italy

Italy

Credit: minemero/ iStock

When people think of Italy, one of the first things that come to mind might be delicious pizza and pasta. It may come as a surprise, then, that diet is one big contributor to Italy’s status as second healthiest country in the world. The Mediterranean diet is primarily composed of fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and olive oil. The emphasis on olive oil leads to lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. Another element of the Italian diet with similar benefits is garlic. Garlic has also been tied to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

While the Italian diet doesn’t include much meat, lean meats are the most popular. Even when Italians are consuming dishes that aren’t considered healthy, such as pizza, they prepare it in a more health conscious way. Their pizzas have less toppings and incorporate more fresh, healthy ingredients.

The Italian style of eating also contributes to mental health. Italian meals are focused on bringing families and friends together. Italians are known for maintaining large and healthy social networks. This emphasis on community helps reduce stress and promotes mental well-being.

Spain

Spain

Credit: May_Lana/ Shutterstock

Spain has the honor of being named the healthiest country in the world. Like Italy, Spaniards follow the Mediterranean diet, with its focus on vegetables, lean meats, and olive oil.

Like Iceland, Spaniards live in a beautiful location, which likely promotes a natural inclination towards healthy, outdoor activity. One thing is for sure, it contributes to mental health, with 84% of Spaniards reporting that they are happy.

All these factors together also lead to the longest life expectancy of any country in the European Union. Even if you can’t move to Spain any time soon, perhaps it’s time to plan a vacation to celebrate this happy and healthy country.

Ebola virus: Tanzania failing to provide details, WHO says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Ebola virus: Tanzania failing to provide details, WHO says

Ebola workers in DR CongoImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Ebola workers in DR Congo, where the latest outbreak has killed more than 2,000

The World Health Organization (WHO) has rebuked Tanzania for failing to provide information about possible Ebola virus infections.

The WHO said it had learned of one suspected fatal case in Dar es Salaam and two others but, despite repeated requests, was given no information.

Tanzania has said it has no suspected or confirmed cases.

The latest outbreak has killed more than 2,000 in eastern DR Congo, with Uganda battling to stop any spread.

An epidemic that ravaged parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016 killed more than 11,000 people.

What is the WHO complaining about?

A statement on Saturday said that on 10 September the organisation had learned of a suspected infection in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s most populous city, in what would be the country’s first Ebola case.

It said the patient had been to Uganda, shown symptoms of Ebola in August, tested positive and died on 8 September. It said that the woman’s contacts had been quarantined.

The WHO said it had unofficial reports of two other possible cases.

It said: “Despite several requests, WHO did not receive further details of any of these cases from Tanzanian authorities.”

It added: “The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge for assessing the risk posed by this event.”

What has Tanzania said in response?

On 14 September, Tanzania said there were no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in the country.

Media caption Fear and myths: Why people are still in denial about Ebola

However, it did not directly address the case of the woman mentioned by the WHO and provided no further information.

Last week, US Health Secretary Alex Azar criticized Tanzania for its failure to share information on possible cases.

Tanzania is heavily reliant on tourism, which could be affected by confirmed cases.

What is the latest on the outbreak?

It began in the eastern DR Congo in August last year and is the biggest of 10 Ebola outbreaks to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola crisis in the country a “public health emergency of international concern”.

There have been more than 3,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

Other nations are on high alert. Four people have died after being diagnosed with the virus in Uganda, which has maintained largely successful screening centers along its border.

The disease can spread rapidly and similarly rapid measures are needed to control it, including hand-washing regimes and quarantines.

What is Ebola?

The Ebola virusImage copyright BSIP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat
  • It progresses to vomiting, diarrhea and both internal and external bleeding
  • People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, feces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola
  • Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 10:30
A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Allen G.Breed)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.

“While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent,” said the study’s lead author Felix Stehle.

“No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level,” he added.

The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.

The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.

The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.

Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.

Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse

3D drawing of human lungs

An acupuncturist pierced her patient’s lung through a pressure point in her shoulders.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

It’s the stuff of nightmares: An acupuncturist in New Zealand accidentally pierced her patient’s lungs while inserting needles into the patient’s shoulder, causing the organ to collapse.

The 33-year-old woman went to the acupuncture clinic in March following arm and wrist injuries that caused pain in her shoulders. To alleviate the discomfort, her acupuncturist inserted two needles near a spot known in Chinese medicine as the Jian Jing pressure point, or Gallbladder 21, which lies near the top of the shoulders.

It also rests dangerously close to the apices of the lungs — the pointed ends of the organ near the neck. At Gallbladder 21, the surface of the lung lies only 0.4 to 0.8 inches (10 to 20 millimeters) beneath the skin, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Related: 27 Oddest Medical Cases

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When the needles were inserted, the patient felt a twinge of pain and later recalled that the instruments felt “extremely deep,” according to a report filed by New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner. The acupuncturist left the needles in for 30 minutes before twisting and removing them, an action that left the patient feeling a sudden “right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.” The patient said she also felt a “stuffy” sensation 10 minutes later, so the acupuncturist removed all of the remaining needles, administered additional treatment, and sent the patient home with instructions to rest and pay attention to her breathing.

Once home, the patient felt persistent pain in the left side of her chest and numbness in the right side. Later that night, she was admitted to the emergency department, where she was diagnosed with bilateral apical pneumothoraces, meaning both of her lungs had collapsed. The pneumothoraces were produced by the acupuncture treatment, which caused gas to be released into her chest cavity.

Although these occurrences are rare, acupuncturists occasionally pierce patients’ lungs through the Jian Jing pressure point. About 30% of the cases of pneumothorax due to acupuncture are caused by  the insertion of needles into that particular spot, according to a 2010 study by the WHO. Per New Zealand’s Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, this well-established risk should be spelled out for patients before any needles enter their skin.

The acupuncturist in this case reportedly failed to inform her patient of these risks and neglected to have her sign a required written consent form. The commissioner recommended that the acupuncturist receive additional training and that the clinic audit whether other clients had received informational brochures and signed consent forms prior to treatment, according to the New Zealand Herald.

You can read more about the case in the New Zealand Herald.

Originally published on Live Science

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

Credit: CSNafzger/Shutterstock

Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

Credit: NicolasMcComber/iStock

San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Credit: Vladimir Daragan/Shutterstock

The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

Credit: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

Credit: aiisha5/iStock

With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

Credit: 4nadia/iStock

Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

Credit: Joey Reuteman/Shutterstock

Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

Credit: uschools/iStock

Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.