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Updated 3:00 PM August 7, 2008




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AARP honors Ann Arbor as 'Healthiest City'

From a podium set against rows of lush peonies marking the Arboretum entrance, Dr. Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs, and local officials took turns expressing pride in the selection of Ann Arbor as the No. 1 Healthiest City to Live and Retire In.
Dr. Robert Kelch, at podium, executive vice president for medical affairs, is joined in the Nichols Arboretum by Ann Arbor residents Carol and Bob Mull, and Mayor John Hiefje as AARP honors the city as the healthiest hometown in the country. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

The ranking, announced July 23 by the American Association of Retired Persons publication AARP The Magazine, is based on more than 20 measures including clean air and water, health and habits of residents, opportunities for exercise, the number of doctors and more.

"As I considered this tremendous award, I was struck by a thought: No single group or organization owns this honor," Kelch told municipal leaders including Mayor John Hiefje.

"It wasn't one aspect of Ann Arbor that resulted in this acknowledgement — but nearly every aspect of it — from the wonderful green space to the world-class health care to the very folks who live here and choose to exercise and eat right."

Retired alumnus Bob Mull, joined by wife Carol, said they often take walks in the 123-acre Nichols Arboretum, chosen by AARP as the site for their announcement.

Quality entertainment and sports activity options — including the two University golf courses — help make Ann Arbor a desirable place to live for retirees, they said.

"It's a place with a beautiful river, the Huron River," Carol Mull said. "We love to walk and bike along its shores."

Other criteria guiding the AARP The Magazine selection include quality of life measures such as housing affordability, the local economy, educational resources, crime, climate, recreational amenities, and arts and culture.

"The cities we chose are ahead of the healthy living curve with access to healthcare facilities, numerous options for exercise, activities, volunteerism and a culture that supports vitality," said Nancy Graham, acting editor of the magazine.

"The University of Michigan's greatest strength is the fact that we have top-ranked schools of medicine, dentistry, social work, nursing, law, business, pharmacy, public health and engineering — and a top health system — all within a walk or short bike ride from each other. This proximity — unique in the United States — allows our scientists and physicians to easily and freely collaborate across disciplines," Kelch said. "The intellectual capital we have on campus is one of the key reasons the AARP sees Ann Arbor as a 'hotbed of medical innovation.'"

Kelch also cited the University's contributions through its work in genetics, stem cells, nanotechnology, cancer, depression, and cardiology and vascular medicine to improve lives, and collaborations through the University Research Corridor, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization, the Washtenaw Health Plan and the Michigan Healthy Community Initiative, which encourages healthier living for employees, their families, retirees and students.

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