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America's Best Healthy Places To Retire

Think of it as retirement reinvented. As Americans live longer and in better health, all those old retirement clichés seem evermore removed from reality. Long walks on the beach? Hitting the links? Fiddling around the house? Nope, modern retirement can be so much more than that, from triathlons to deep-sea fishing. (OK, and maybe a little golf.)

Of course, to make the most of this next stage of life, you have to be healthy. And whether you practice yoga to heighten your mental acuteness and flexibility, soak up the panoramic views at the highest peak of a hiking trail, or get a rush when a gust of wind hits the sails, where you spend your later years can make all the difference.

To help you get started on the process of finding the healthiest spots to retire (assuming that such a thing is still possible, despite the dismal stock market), U.S. News traveled the country and selected 10 editors' picks. These are places way ahead of the healthy-living curve--they provide numerous places to exercise, promote strong social support, and encourage healthful lifestyle habits. And each has a little something extra, too. In Portland, Maine, for instance, it's sailing. Longmeadow, Mass., is a haven for bird-watchers. And folks in Walnut Creek, Calif., are wild about gardening.

But our list is just the beginning. Want to search for the retirement spot that best fits your needs? Just go to www.usnews.com/retiresearch, and you'll find the 2008 version of our Best Places to Retire search tool. It allows you to sort through more than 2,000 locations throughout the United States according to the criteria that are most important to you, including climate, access to healthcare, cost of living, and recreational choices. You'll end up with a customized list of places with detailed information about each city or town. You can also find more editors' picks of the greenest, brainiest, and outdoorsiest places to retire. We've even got something for golf nuts and the most fanatical of football fans. Finally, we've included favorite retirement havens submitted by readers.

There's no better time than retirement to focus on your health. By choosing the best place for a healthy retirement, you can bet you'll look forward to personal fulfillment and a longer life. Oh, and feel free to break some myths along the way.

MORE @ WWW.USNEWS.COM

You can whet your appetite by viewing videos of some healthy places to retire at www.usnews.com/retirevideo or photo galleries of all 10 editors' picks at www.usnews.com/retirephoto. Then on to the main course: searching the U.S. News database of 2,000 retirement spots at www.usnews.com/retiresearch to find a great one for you. And bone up on retirement finances and more daily at Emily Brandon's Planning to Retire blog: www.usnews.com/planningtoretire.

By Kimberly A. Castro