You are…where you live? Designing health and wellbeing into your community
June 5, 2015
We all know “you are what you eat.” But have you ever also thought about the fact that “you are where you live?”
Heart disease, obesity, diabetes—few would argue these health threats are on the rise in the U.S. Physicians and other healthcare workers agree that to combat these modern “lifestyle diseases,” Americans must watch what they eat, exercise, and quit smoking. This advice, while seemingly simple, can prove difficult to implement as individuals attempt to change their long-standing habits. Perhaps it’s time to start looking at where we live as much as how we live. As urban planners, we’re keenly aware that when it comes to healthy living, design matters.
Is your neighborhood within walking distance to a grocery store that offers a good variety of fresh produce? Can you and your children safely bike and walk to work and school? Are the apartments and houses on your street situated to encourage socialization and interaction with neighbors? (A less recognized threat to health and wellbeing is loneliness, and the problem is increasingly prevalent in our cities). Was your community planned around green spaces that encourage recreation, exercise, and appreciation of the area’s natural characteristics?
Our Cape Coral Hospital project provides an exciting opportunity for EnSite to employ healthy design principles in creating an Optimal Healing Environment both inside and out. Included are a connected pathway system, exercise stations, and a variety of inviting gardens, all open to the public. EnSite has provided a special focus on connectivity, both internally and externally. When completed, the campus will become a privately owned public park.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that more than 30% of Americans are obese, representing a $147-billion cost in healthcare dollars annually. That’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of a clear and present public health crisis. EnSite’s team of urban planners and designers enjoy access to an extensive toolbox of resources such as the CDC’s Health Impact Assessment. Such tools help us work with municipalities, organizations, and universities to develop or improve their communities to enhance the wellbeing of residents or shareholders, and save taxpayer dollars. Those communities then get to serve as a benchmark of intelligent planning and the outcomes that can be realized when we know that as much as you are what you eat, you are where you live.