By now, you may have heard the familiar phrase, “Keep Portland Weird” when describing Portland, Oregon. But after a recent survey of Portland’s healthy behaviors and habits, a new way to describe Portland just might be, “Keep Portland Healthy.” In fact, a recent study of Portland’s Healthy Habits conducted by The Portland Clinic, discovered that an astounding 73% of Portland residents surveyed exercise regularly. This compares with just 56% who say that they exercise nationally. Additionally, another study, which was issued by wallethub, ranked Portland in the Top 5 for America’s healthiest cities.
Seemingly everywhere one goes these days in Portland, it’s a sure bet that you’re going to find someone either out exercising or on their way to exercise. Is it any wonder that Portland is the land of just do it?
Portland Area Has Unique Behaviors
With 250 parks and recreation sites within the City of Portland alone, which also offers 150 miles of trails within these same parks, Portlanders love their outdoor spaces. Our numerous parks makes Portland the perfect place to support a healthy lifestyle. As a matter of fact, nearly 10% of land in Portland is dedicated to parkland alone. But it’s not just in the parks where Portlanders exercise to focus on being healthy.
Portland loves going to the gym. The survey done by The Portland Clinic, shows that 37% of respondents say that their most common form of exercise was going to the gym. This was followed by 27% who said that their top form of exercise was walking.
But doesn’t Portland love their bicycles too? With all the talk about bicycles in Portland, you might not believe this, but only 3% of the respondents listed bicycling as their most common form of exercise.
Portland Prioritizes Health More Than Other Cities
In an interview with the Portland Tribune, Dick Clark, The Portland Clinic CEO, said this about the survey, which they conducted, “We were inspired to do this survey because we wanted to confirm some of our feelings and test some of our assumptions on how Portlanders participate and are engaged in their own health.” One assumption might be how Portland stacks up against other cities and their healthy habits. In this, what they found is that Portlanders placed a higher priority on exercise and nutrition than that of other cities. “We think this data does a wonderful job of showing the excellent work Portland has done as a community to foster a more health-conscious environment.” Clark continued.
Another fascinating result from the study which showed how Portlanders are actively engaged in their own health, was in fast food consumption. On average, Portlanders dine out at fast food restaurants one time per month, a full 20% less than that of residents in other cities. Furthermore, only 35% of Portlanders eat junk food multiple times per week. All in all, the people of Portland not only place an emphasis on exercise, but also on their diet.
How Portland Can Improve Healthy Habits
Yet, with all this encouraging news, is it all rosy here in the Rose City when it comes to the healthy habits of Portlanders? Sadly, not. The study does reveal that PDX still has room to improve.
Of those surveyed, just over half of PDX homes reported having at least one family member who lives with a chronic health condition that can be treated as well as prevented with lifestyle changes. The most common of these chronic health condition in Portland was obesity, followed by arthritis, asthma and diabetes.
Clark said, “As much as we think that achieving great health is about spending hours in the gym and dining only on salad, small lifestyle choices can also have a major impact on your wellness.” Anything from skipping one can of soda or even just taking a 20 minute walk each afternoon can have a positive impact.
So, where do your healthy habits fit in with the rest of Portland?
Do you hit the gym each day or is that you out there running in the pouring down rain at Waterfront Park? Or maybe it’s taking a lunchtime walk to Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District. For lunch, are you passing on that fast food and instead eating healthy food? If this describes you, then there is some good news…
We have one last study to share with you that will bring home the very benefits we all seem to be chasing by choosing healthy habits right here in Oregon and around the entire Portland area. Three words: Increased life expectancy.
The Centers for Disease control released a report that revealed that Oregon elderly live healthier, longer lives than in other states, stating that our seniors stay physically active and eat smart. This of course is led by many of the efforts in Portland over time to make the city more walkable and livable.
All of this, speaks to Portland being much more than just a city. But rather, perhaps PDX is really a culture. And a healthy one at that.
Need help jump starting your healthy habits with some small lifestyle changes? Here are 7 things you can begin doing today that can make a difference in your life and further increase the Portland area’s leadership behaviors surrounding a healthy lifestyle.
1. Take a lunch break and walk each afternoon.
2. Skip that next can of soda.
3. Drink a glass of water before every meal
4. Snack intelligently
5. Park your car farther away from entrances to work or stores.
6. Plan to visit a different Portland Park each week for a long walk
7. Invite a friend. It’s always better together.