Which small town should we move to?

Explore the Heart of Texas
The small towns and two-lane roads that fan out westward from Austin make up the heart of the Texas Hill Country.
| Credit: Photo: Van Chaplin

Living in the country has just been scientifically proven to be good for your health. A recent study published in European Heart Journal shows that life in a big city could be linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, as Country Living reported.

The study shows that exposure to things like air pollution and road traffic noise—both of which are common features in big cities—could be linked to changes in blood chemistry related to heart disease. That means all the things we value about life in the country—the fresh air and peace and quiet—may decrease your chance of contracting certain types of heart disease.

Researchers at the Imperial College of London's School of Public Health studied data from 144,000 adults in Norway and the Netherlands. They sorted participants by whether they lived in the city or the country and looked at exposure to air pollution and traffic related noise exposure as well as levels of certain biological markers in their blood, which are often linked to heart disease risk.

They found that an increase of just five decibels in noise levels was linked to 0.3% higher blood sugar levels than those living in quieter neighborhoods. That higher blood sugar can spell trouble. "Our findings contribute to the strong scientific evidence that both air pollution and traffic noise are bad for our health," Dr Yutong Cai, from Imperial College of London's School of Public Health said. While increased blood sugar levels can be problematic on their own, another study linked traffic-related air and noise pollution to hypertension, too.

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The correlation between noise and air pollution and heart health needs more study, and living up in the woods and far from the highway isn't guaranteed to prevent cardiovascular ailments, but it sure is a great excuse to visit the country more often.