Healthy Neighbourhoods

healthy neighbourhood

Our health is impacted by many factors, including external influences. How communities are planned and built, and the services and resources provided within them, directly impacts people's physical, mental and social health. The physical surroundings include the buildings, parks, schools, road systems and other infrastructure that we encounter in our daily lives. Health impacts are reflected in levels of social connection, mental and physical fitness, chronic disease, obesity and injury.

The built environment can help or hinder the active transportation opportunities. Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transportation, such as walking, cycling, wheelchair use, in-line skating or skateboarding. Active transportation contributes to achieving the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, recommended by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.

There are many ways to engage in active transportation, whether it is walking to the bus stop, or cycling to school/work. Public health advocates can help shape the design of cities and suburbs in ways that improve public health.

Here are a few key features which can affect physical activity:

  1. Streetscape characteristic – The street is inviting, there are sidewalks, bikeways, benches, garbage and recycling bins, safe intersections, shade, lights and signs .
  2. Distance to services and facilities – Living close to parks, trails and recreation facilities increases recreational physical activity – places like school yards, play structures and dance studios.
  3. Mixed land use – Are there services such as: a bank, church, daycare, community centre library or even a dentist?

A mix of services in a neighbourhood, increases the chances that someone will walk to their destination. All of these things are important to our health.

At the end of the day, it’s up to YOU to decide how you will spend more time outside, moving and interacting with friends and neighbours!