Want to Live Longer? Move to Lancaster.

They say this city can kill you. Well now we have proof.

Graphic from Measure of American of the Social Science Research Council's report "<a href=

The Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America project has released a report called “Geographies of Opportunity: Ranking Well-Being by Congressional District” in which they measure health, access to knowledge and living standards within the country’s 435 congressional districts as well as Washington, D.C. Only a few states get called out for special notice, and wouldn’t you know it, Pennsylvania is one of them.

pa-district-2There’s a special section called “A Tale of Two Districts: Life Expectancy in Pennsylvania.” The reason the state gets special attention is because it’s an outlier in terms of the health metric, and not in a good way. “Only four districts outside the South have life expectancies of less than 76 years,” the report reads, and one of those is Pennsylvania Congressional District 2, shown at left, which covers much of West Philly, and  other surrounding neighborhoods. The average life expectancy in this district is 75.6 years, to be precise, which is several years below the national average. Read more »

Measles Scare at Please Touch Museum


UPDATE: According to multiple reports, the Health Department has indicated that the person did not, in fact, test positive for measles.


If you were at the Please Touch Museum on Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health says you may have been exposed to the measles. Read more »

Mayor Nutter Tries to Calm Philly’s Nerves About Ebola


If you’re reading this article right now on Phillymag.com, you are probably not at risk for catching Ebola. You are likely in the area, and no one in Philadelphia has been diagnosed with the virus. But today Mayor Michael Nutter said Philadelphians are in no danger of contracting the virus right now. And he says Philly is prepared if any cases show up here.

The mayor also urged residents not to discriminate against Philadelphians from West African countries — where the outbreak has killed more than 4,500. Philadelphia has a large West African population living in Southwest Philadelphia.

Read more »

Why America Is Obese: We’re Not Exercising Enough, Study Says



A new study by Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that America’s obesity epidemic might be more influenced by a lack of exercise than excess calorie consumption, the LA Times reports. The research shows that while obesity has risen in the past 22 years, the amount of time we spend exercising has taken a major dive.

In 2010, 52 percent of women and 43 percent of men reported doing no exercise in their free time, up from 19 percent and 11 percent in 1998. But here’s the kicker: The number of calories we consume has remained the same.

Read more »

6 Science-Backed Reasons to Embrace Your Sweaty Self



I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you, but we are in the middle of a serious heat wave. With temps in the city crawling up to triple-digits today, plus humidity, anyone who steps foot outside for more than a few minutes is bound to be a sweaty, sticky mess. I, for one, am no fan of the heat. This is my first summer in Philly, and I’m thoroughly accustomed to the Northern way of receding into air conditioning until there’s snow on the ground. Turning into a sweaty disaster on my five-minute walk to the train is a brand-new phenomena for me, and one that I’m not exactly loving.

But did you know that all that sweat is actually healthy? Here, I found six science-backed reasons that being a sweaty pig actually is good for you. (Just don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!) It sure isn’t going to transform me into a summer-lover, but it might help me sleep just the tiniest bit better in my unairconditioned apartment tonight. In the meantime, if you have an igloo I can borrow, let me know.  Read more »

Wanna Get a Discount to Be Well Philly Boot Camp?

Shoppist readers can get a discount on Boot Camp tix!

Shoppist readers can get a discount on Boot Camp tix!

If you’re a fitness and health buff in Philly, then you probably already know about Be Well Philly Boot Camp, our sister site’s major health and fitness event that takes place in just a few weeks. And if you’re not so tuned in to what’s happening in the workout world, well, here are the details in a nutshell:

  • Workouts: Indoor and outdoor fitness classes
  • Speakers: Tips, inspiration and helpful info from experts
  • Cooking demos: gluten-free foods, juicing, and how to prepare healthful means on the go
  • Running clinic: get your gait analyzed by the pros
  • Freebies: samples and shopping from top wellness brands
  • When: Saturday, June 7th, from 9am to 2pm, at the Drexel Recreation Center (women only!)

Sounds pretty good, right? Tickets are on sale now and are $35, but we’ve got a way for you to score them on the cheap.

Savings ahead.

Why Is Everyone in Philadelphia So Stressed?

Illustration by Leslie Herman

Illustration by Leslie Herman

I have a knot.

It lives between my shoulder blades, a little to the right of center. I feel it when I sit at my computer, when I walk through the grocery store, when I’m stuck in traffic on the Schuylkill: a small hard knot, like a kink in a cord. Twenty times a day I bend down and touch the ground, trying to untie it. Twenty times a day I stretch — this way, that way, down and around — to try to work it out.

I know what tied my knot: deadlines, bills, two kids, a leaking roof, that long hard winter. Modern life, in other words. Chances are you’ve got a knot of your own. Or maybe your problem’s in your stomach. Maybe you can’t sleep at night. Maybe you drink too much, or eat too much. Get headaches. Grind your teeth. All of the above.

We call what tied my knot “stress” — the accumulation of worries, fears and doubts that bedevil us daily. We know it isn’t good for us. We’re told we should avoid it. (Yeah, right.) The entire $27 billion-a-year U.S. yoga industry is pretty much one giant stress-coping strategy.

Every day, it seems, science implicates stress in some new bodily disorder — obesity, depression, infertility, not to mention good old-fashioned high blood pressure and heart attacks. Now, research being done here in Philly says our stress-ridden lives are reprogramming us at a cellular level, affecting mankind’s future ability to cope with worries and regrets.

Other local scientists, however, say that conquering stress is surprisingly quick and easy — and that the power lies within our own minds.

I hope so. Because right now, my knot is killing me.

LET’S START WITH A QUICK recap of high-school biology. Remember the fight-or-flight response? Bunny sees fox. All on its own, bunny’s body yanks itself out of its customary equilibrium, drawing resources away from every function except those needed for escape. No sense expending fuel on digestion, reproduction or even cognition at a time like this; all that matters is speed.

Inside bunny, a cascade of nutrients — glucose for energy, endorphins to dull pain — is delivered to the muscles via a circulatory system hyped up by “stress hormones” that quicken heart and breathing rates and increase blood pressure. Once bunny makes it safely back to its burrow, the heartbeat slows and breathing calms via a release of counteracting hormones. The body returns to stasis, and resources can again be allocated to long-term work.

Fight-or-flight is expensive, in terms of bodily fuel. But it worked well enough for our ancestors that we made it through to here. We get into trouble with stress because contemporary life doesn’t offer the same sorts of challenges the Stone Age did. Instead of encountering rare instances of physical danger, we’re bombarded by continual alerts: Phone’s ringing! Email’s beeping! Baby’s crying! Bill’s due! We’re in a perpetual state of “anxiety,” which is what we call an abnormal response to stress. And we’re taking pills for it: We spend $2.1 billion annually on anti-anxiety medications like Xanax. Psychologist Robert Leahy says high-school kids today show the same anxiety levels as psychiatric patients in the 1950s.

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