Where we live, how we move, what we eat, and our social connections can all influence our health and wellbeing. Many of these factors are affected by our surroundings, also referred to as the "built environment". The built environment, which includes our homes, streets and communities, is described as places and spaces that are created or modified by people, including the arrangement and design of buildings, roadways, trails, transit networks and parks.
The built environment impacts our health by:
· influencing our levels of physical activity (walk, cycle, transit or drive)
· influencing our exposures to factors that are both beneficial and detrimental to our health, such as:
o risks of injury
o proximity to noise
o vehicle emissions
o social interaction
o access to green space
o access to healthy foods, and
o proximity to goods and services.
Creating a healthy built environment involves integrating healthy design principles into the development of spaces that aim to improve health.
Healthy design includes designing buildings and communities with access to walking and biking trails, and dedicated spaces for physical activity such as sports fields and parks.
Yet, increasing levels of physical activity have been shown to reduce obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
Healthy design also includes creating opportunities for consuming fresh, healthy foods. This can be done by designing communities to ensure access to grocery stores, healthy food vendors, and providing opportunities and space for gardens where fresh vegetables can be grown.