Health Connections

The design of our communities can influence our health in many ways. It determines the way we travel and where we live, work and play. It can foster or deter health eating, physical activity, social interaction and time spent in nature. It influences the levels of air pollution and noise we are exposed to. It affects the temperature in our communities, whether we have access to shade, and the exposure we have to risks such as floods.

People who live in neighbourhoods with a wide range of stores, services and entertainment options tend to drive less, walk or cycle more often, have lower body weights and reduced risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Parks with pathways and benches, sports fields and playgrounds provide opportunities to stay active, meet with friends and enjoy nature. People who live in neigbourhoods close to parks and recreation have a lower risk of dying prematurely and better mental health.

People who live in walkable and transit-supportive neighbourhoods have more options for getting to school, work, services and recreation opportunities. This means less traffic on roads, more opportunities for physical activity, and lower costs for travel. People who are more active have a lower risk of developing chronic diseases including diabetes, heart diseases, and some cancers. Less traffic means less noise and air pollution and fewer vehicle-related injuries and deaths. In addition, people who save money on travel can direct more of their resources to other necessities such as food, rent and clothing.

Green trees and plants along streets help to keep urban areas cool, and encourage people to walk and cycle by providing shade and pleasant scenery.  People who live in neighbourhoods with green streets have a lower risk of heat-related illnesses and better mental health.

Air pollution from cars, trucks and buses is highest near busy roads in urban areas. People who live in neighbourhoods with low levels of air pollution have better heart and lung health.