Staying Healthy in Rural Areas

Despite having more open spaces and a greater proximity to the outdoors, the U.S. counties most strongly correlated with negative health indicators, such as obesity, are located in rural areas. On some levels, it’s not too hard to see why: most health care advice is targeted towards an urban population. We’re told to hit the gym, walk to work, and partake in sports like tennis and swimming. If you live in a rural area, there’s a chance that none of these options are feasible.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many ways to live a healthy, rural lifestyle. For those of you looking for ways to get started, here are some general tips:

Drink Well

Forsaking soda and beer in favor of water – at least for most hydration occasions – is an easy first step in the quest for a healthy lifestyle, and it shouldn’t matter where in the United States you live. If you have clean tap water, it’s as simple as heading to the faucet and turning it on. If you don’t, invest in a filter or petition your local municipality to install a Well Water Treatment System. Clean water is well worth any effort.

Plan Your Meals

Residents of rural areas often describe a difficult situation when it comes to healthy food choices. They live far from the nearest supermarket, and consequently don’t want to go there more than a couple times a month. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of fast food places that are closer, more convenient, and ultimately prove tempting once that last supermarket trip starts to fade from memory. The best solution to this problem? It’s easier said than done, but if you plan out your meals before going to the grocery store then you have a better sense of what to buy and you can keep yourself to a schedule once you return home. Instead of being too lazy to think of a dinner plan and heading to McDonald’s, you’ll know exactly what you should be eating that night – and you’ll have the ingredients to make it happen.

Get a Bike

As aforementioned, many exercise activities are difficult to do in a rural area. Tennis courts, swimming pools, and health clubs are rare, leaving few options for the health inclined. Some people find that rural areas are a great place to run, with wide open spaces and roads stretching to the horizon. But sometimes those spaces can be too wide open, and running in rural areas is often times less advisable than getting a bicycle. A bike makes the miles shorter and the distance to the nearest gas station less daunting. And most rural areas have open, paved roads with rolling terrain – perfect for biking. If you’re really adventurous, you can bike into town or to the nearby store.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it will hopefully provide a good start for those whose needs are rarely addressed when it comes to health advice: residents of rural areas. And, regardless of which options you choose, always remember that having the lifestyle you want is about making the right choices. Hopefully, those choices will be healthy ones.