The Washington area is known for many things: Great schools. Terrible traffic. Now, the region is also gaining recognition as one of the healthiest in the nation, thanks in part to a community right in the capital’s back yard. Bethesda is rated the second-healthiest city nationwide in Self magazine’s Best Cities for Women 2012 report. The 100-city throwdown looked at 58 criteria, including cancer and depression rates, access to health care, air quality, crime rates and healthful factors such as exercise, diet and smoking rates. When the magazine crunched the numbers, Bethesda came out near the top, second only to San Jose. Other top-rated cities include San Francisco, Honolulu and Minneapolis. What gave Bethesda an edge? “It’s supersafe, with half the violent crime average” of other metro areas, the magazine reported. The magazine’s assessment of the District — which it defined for some reason as also including Arlington and Alexandria — wasn’t quite as high as its neighbor: It ranked 31st. While the District has one of the highest exercise rates and more farmer’s markets than most other cities, it also has one of the highest rates of binge drinking, according to Self. “Hey, we know the political system is complicated!” the magazine quipped. “The good news? Washingtonians take care of their skin, with low incidences of skin cancer.” The full report is searchable at www.self.com.
“For a hot body, push play,” advises Shape magazine. While getting fit isn’t quite that easy, the magazine test-drove popular exercise DVDs to help readers make the most of at-home sweat sessions. “With the right DVD, you can duplicate the effectiveness of a club sesh right in your living room,” it reports. Editorial staffers reviewed the DVDs and chose the top six, which they deemed “unique, efficient and easy to follow,” and with motivating instructors. The standouts, according to Shape: Denise Austin’s Shrink Belly Fat, SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting, Cathe Friedrich’s Cross Fire, Exhale Core Fusion 30 Day Sculpt, Addicted to Sweat 4 and Fuse Dance Cardio Melt. The DVDs include elements of plyometrics, barre, weight training, Pilates and dance, and range from slow-paced to high-energy. Not ready to commit to just one ? The magazine’s December issue contains a compilation of favorite moves from each DVD — such as 180-degree jumps and rotating lunge presses — to create a unique exercise circuit.