IMG_1235When people discover that I live in New York City, they are always surprised. They ask, “How is it possible that you can stay so healthy while living in such a big, congested city?

Well, it’s easy actually. And, I often wonder how is it possible that someone can live in a big city and not remain healthy!

I realize that highly populated cities can be polluted and overcrowded, and the people living in them may be moving at an unsustainable pace.

It’s not uncommon for folks to work long hours and have short tempers, and to subsist on fast food, caffeine and sugar to keep the city up and running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

But, within an unhealthy city environment also lives a wealth of healthy options.

Nestled between the Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds you may find Panera Bread, Le Pain Quotidien, Chop’t and Chipotle (my favorite fast food joint!) or other fast food establishment that may offer healthier options.

And, I know there’s hot-dog stands, kabob carts and hot pretzels on practically every corner, but there are also fruit and vegetable stands – you just need to find them.

Many big cities also have healthy food markets like Fairway, Hannaford, Safeway, Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Granted there may not be as many healthy food options as there are unhealthy options, but I assure you, every big city has something somewhere. All you gotta do is locate it.

Big cities are also filled with great ways to de-stress and unwind without getting ossified at the nearest bar during happy hour. Stretch your body in a yoga class, free your mind at a meditation center, or relax your body with a twenty-minute massage at one of the many health spas or massage parlors. Even without a “happy ending” you’ll still be pretty darn happy.

My all time favorite thing about big cities are their beautiful parks. For example, Central Park is certainly an oasis in the middle of New York City. Spending time outdoors in the park is one of the best ways to stay healthy and connected to nature. My husband often says, “If it weren’t for Central Park we would have to move.” And, he’s right. There’s something about having that precious slice of nature in the center of the chaotic city that creates a feeling of overall peace and calm in every cell of my body.

And, lastly… although many cities operate twenty-four hours a day, it doesn’t mean the people living in them need to do the same. We need rest.

IMG_0648New York is often called the city that never sleeps. Thankfully, this New Yorker knows that sleeping is essential to good health. So, I’m off to sleep with the moon and wake with the sun, regardless of all the noise and unnatural light coming in from outside my window.

How do you stay healthy while living in a big city?