There are plenty of good reasons to move to the Golden State: the beautiful weather, the luxurious real estate, the miles upon miles of beaches, the high-quality education. However, few people who move to California expect that their relocation will make them healthier.
A ranking of cities in the United States sees a number of California cities at the top, and Californians consistently rank high in terms of their healthy lifestyle habits. If you are eager for a move West, here’s why California might be your best choice for health and wellness:
Today, Federal law requires that only adults aged 21 and over can buy tobacco products, but that hasn’t always been the case. Tobacco was once believed to be a healthful substance that opened the airways and improved focus; now, it is known to cause cancer and heart disease, among a number of other health concerns. The first state to impose regulations on tobacco was New Jersey, which raised the minimum age of purchase to 16 way back in 1883. However, California has modeled effective public health policy surrounding tobacco since the 1990s, when the state banned smoking in public areas.
Today, California has the second-lowest rate of tobacco consumption in the country, which is remarkable considering the size and diversity of the state. Those looking to get away from tobacco smoke–clogged cities will find it easier to breathe almost anywhere in the Golden State.
California has long been the world capital for cannabis culture, thanks to its welcoming attitude toward counter-culture communities and its near-perfect environment for growing pot. California was the first state to create a legal medical marijuana program, designed to help AIDS sufferers and cancer patients enjoy a better quality of life, and today, California is by far the largest cannabis market in the world, valued at over $5.5 billion.
Though there remains some stigma attached to cannabis use, research has found the drug undeniably safer than alcohol and potentially an important element of a holistically healthy lifestyle. Unlike booze, weed does not steadily poison and kill the body’s organs to generate psychoactive effects. In fact, cannabis provides a number of positive effects, such as muscle relaxation and pain relief, which can counteract the damaging effects of stress. Even if you don’t have a health condition that qualifies you for medical marijuana treatment, you can benefit from visiting a Los Angeles dispensary — especially if it means avoiding other dangerous habits, like drinking alcohol.
Lower Air Pollution
California cities were largely built after the advent of cars, which means they tend to be sprawling and connected by a series of highways. Unfortunately, this means California has a bad reputation for large amounts of traffic and layers upon layers of choking smog.
Indeed, if you move to a big city in the Golden State, you are likely to spend an hour or more getting from here to there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see beautiful, blue Californian skies above you as you do. California has worked hard to reduce its air pollution, being the first state to regulate or ban a variety of pollutants known to have negative health effects and working diligently toward lowering their greenhouse emissions by incentivizing zero-emissions vehicles. Though the air might not be quite as clean as rural Wyoming, California’s smog is under better control than that of other cities and states.
Better Diet and Exercise
The foundation of good health is diet and exercise. You need to eat whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, and you need to move your body regularly, stretching and exerting your strength. In California, this tends to be much easier than it is in other states.
California is the country’s breadbasket; the climate of the Central Valley allows for the cultivation of a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains, so Californians tend to have quick and easy access to the freshest and healthiest food. As long as you are cooking at home or eating at farm-to-table restaurants, you can take advantage of the nutrients growing so close to home.
What’s more, California is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation, which tend to make exercise much more enjoyable. If you move near the coast, you can enjoy ocean swimming or surfing, paddleboarding, water aerobics and more; you can also exercise on the beach, perhaps going for a jog in the sand, playing beach volleyball or spending time at California’s outdoor gyms. Inland, you can explore California’s beautiful terrain through hiking, biking, jogging and more.
If you need a sign to pick up and move to California, maybe you need look no further than the current state of your health. Better public health policy and a culture dedicated to wellness could get you in the best shape of your life.