The Washington Post

Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington top the rankings as three healthiest counties in Virginia

Joan Atkinson, who dances under the stage name Elena Faye, performs with the Middle Eastern fusion dance troupe Ancient Rhythms at Fair Oaks Mall last month. Dancing improves her health and outlook, and improves our physical environment. Win-win. (Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times)

First, the rankings: Fairfax was the first-rated county in Virginia, Loudoun second, Arlington third. (In wealth per capita, it’s Loudoun-Fairfax-Arlington.) Manassas, Alexandria and Manassas Park cities were seven-eight-nine. Prince William tenth. Falls Church, often very highly rated in wealth per capita rankings, was 16th in Virginia’s health standings. Fairfax City was 55th. Richmond was 86th and Petersburg was 133rd and last.

Now, some of the means of measurement: Length and quality of life; unsafe health behaviors (smoking, getting in car crashes), access to medical care (including dental and mental), social and economic factors (median income and homicide rate), and physical environment (access to recreation, number of fast food restaurants). And more. You can find all sorts of data, on virtually every county in the country, right here.

The study was compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Virginia health department released the Commonwealth’s results here, and state Health Commissioner Cynthia Romero said that “so much of what influences good health happens outside of the physician’s office.What we eat, the safety of our communities, how much family and social support we have and our level of education and understanding all influence our health and well-being.”

So it isn’t just the money. A lot of people are doing a lot of things right here. We can feel good about that. According to the study, we do feel good.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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