A little while ago Gary posted a blog about Wal Mart, and the general point of the piece was that people who shop at Wal Mart are typically overweight and undercultured. Also, they dress poorly and they’re so out of shape that they circle the parking lot for hours trying to find a spot close to the door.

He was joking, sort of, because obviously not every person who patronizes Wal Mart obeys this stereotype. Still, I must admit that on the unfortunate occasions when I end up in that giant indoor bazaar, the stereotype proves true more often than not.

However, here in Oklahoma, I’ve noticed that the Wal Mart stereotype seems to be pretty widespread even in places where you don’t find everyday low prices.

Really, it’s everywhere.

Now, to be fair, there are plenty of intelligent, well-rounded people here, and (in Tulsa, at least) you’ll find more beauty and culture than you might expect.

However, whenever I travel, I generally notice a big difference between the lifestyles of people here versus elsewhere.

In most places, I see fewer overweight people, I see people walking more, exercising more, eating less, and particularly eating less mass-produced food. Whether I travel overseas, or to the west and east coasts of the United States, the verdict is generally the same.

Having been raised in Texas, having lived in Oklahoma for a while, I often wonder if I could handle living in a dense city where people don’t have yards. Do I really want to be cooped up in an apartment all the time?

But in San Francisco and New York, two of the densest cities in the U.S., people seem to be outdoors more often because they tend to walk a lot. To the market, to cafes and restaurants, bookstores and video stores, etc.

And because they mostly don’t have their own yards, they congregate in common green spaces.

Not surprisingly, this leads to conversations with strangers. Which, I know, that’s a pinko commie idea and all, but people seem to enjoy it.

Anyway, I recently read a story in Men’s Health that sheds more precise light on this subject. Some statisticians “calculated death rates for heart disease, stroke, and cancer, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” They also “looked at leading longevity predictors, such as exercise frequency and body weight (Best Places), smoking habits (CDC), and higher education (U.S. Census).”

They did this for the 100 largest cities in the U.S. and ranked them based on longevity. Which, in a way, is like ranking general health and lifestyle habits.

We could argue, of course, about the statistical validity of this list, but hey…at least it’s a place to start, right?

Here are some noteworthy results:

– The top 6 cities are all in the west (including Honolulu).

– The next 5 cities are on the east coast.

– The highest-ranked city within a two hundred mile radius of Tulsa is Wichita, KS at 36.

– The population of my beloved home state of Texas is 25 million and yet it has only three cities in the top 50 (El Paso – 28, Austin – 37, Lubbock – 45).

– Plenty of east coast cities fare poorly, like Philadelphia at 73, Baltimore at 78, and Norfolk at 90.

– Still, Tulsa ranked 96 and Oklahoma City ranked 98.

– San Francisco ranked #1

Want to know where your city ranks? Go here for the complete list.