PORTLAND, Maine — According to Men’s Health magazine, Portland is one of the best places in America to be a man. According to its sister publication, Women’s Health, it’s an even better place to be a woman.
Men’s Health listed Maine’s largest city as the 22nd best place out of 100 in the country for men to live. They ranked the cities based on nearly 40 criteria such as air quality, employment rates, crime, commute times and ratio of single men to single women.
Women’s Health, in its version of essentially the same ranking — the two magazines release the annual listings in partnership — placed Portland at No. 10 nationwide for women.
According to the descriptions of the two publications’ lists, which are included in the January/February editions, the women’s ranking uses more healthy living criteria compared to the men’s ranking, which seems to rely on quality-of-life factors — although there is clear overlap in two lists’ criteria.
The Women’s Health rating highlights such things as nutrition and cancer rates, and explains to readers that, “if you call one of the Top 10 best places home, chances are you’re already physically and mentally fit.”
“We’re just trying to create a balance, not only on our plate, but also in how much we move or how much we sit,” said Leslie J. Hamm, founder of Pure Movement on Marginal Way, a street with three gyms and two fitness studios. “I think the clients I see here are trying to integrate all of the things they know into one healthy lifestyle.”
Finishing in the top spot in the Women’s Health list was San Francisco and right ahead of Portland in the No. 9 place was St. Paul, Minn. Raleigh, N.C., finished at No. 11.
The Men’s Health list was topped by Boise, Idaho, and Portland found itself sandwiched between fellow New England cities Manchester, N.H., at No. 21, and Boston at No. 23.
In the bottom two spots of both magazines’ 100-city lists were Philadelphia and Birmingham, Ala., respectively.
Toho Soma, of the city of Portland’s Public Health Division, said the city has worked hard in recent years to battle obesity and promote healthy living.
“Any recognition is great,” Soma said. “Any media that recognizes our efforts is a terrific acknowledgement. We’ve put in a lot of hours, convened a lot of meetings and met with a lot of partners. … Seeing that work appreciated in the larger community and in the media is great, it just encourages us to do it more.”
Utilizing in part a $1.8 million federal grant awarded in 2010, Soma’s division has spearheaded a number of initiatives in the city, including the promotion of fitness trails, the development of a plan to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in the city, the introduction of new school fitness courses and many other things.
“We’ve done menu labeling at participating restaurants, which has helped customers be more informed about what they’re eating and how many calories they’re eating,” Soma said. “We’ve done a ton of work with schools and now have salad bars in all of our schools.”
The last time Portland found itself in the pages of Men’s Health, about a year ago, the magazine was dubbing the Forest City the second best place in America in terms of “where the babes are,” a rating of the city’s eligible women based on how many of Portland’s ladies are big earners, college degree holders and fitness enthusiasts. Only Washington, D.C. ranked higher on a list that seemed to congratulate both Portland women and the men who love them alike.