5 Reasons To Encourage Health In Your Community
Good health is the foundation for a happy, full life. When a person’s body and mind are healthy, it’s easier for them to participate in life and enjoy living to the full. Much of an individual’s health depends on their lifestyle choices – for example, people who smoke or drink are less likely to be healthy than those who combat stress with exercise and good nutrition.
However, the environment and community where you live can also impact your health. People who breathe clean air, grow food in healthy soil and drink pure water live longer healthier lives. Thriving communities offer residents connection, safety, and improved overall wellbeing. Here are five reasons you should encourage health in your community.
1. It Lengthens Lives
Community health has a huge impact on individual health. For example, over the last 30 years, obesity rates have risen exponentially across the United States. This is partly due to the increasingly slow physical pace of American life. People drive instead of walking, eat takeout and are too tired after work to exercise. The rise of the smartphone means people spend more time glued to their screens than out and about.
However, people who live in health-conscious communities are more likely to incorporate movement into their day. If there’s a trail, they’ll go outside after work and get in some exercise. If there’s a bike lane, they’ll bike to work or cycle for fun because it’s convenient. People who move actively throughout the day have healthier bodies, are less likely to develop chronic diseases and live longer lives.
2. It Improves Mental Health
Physical activity directly impacts mental health – which means that investing in healthy communities could be a powerful weapon in the fight against mental illness. The rate of mental illness is rising and has only been aggravated by the stress and isolation of the last several years. When people live in safe, connected communities, their mental health improves.
Studies have shown that natural surroundings reduce stress and improve people’s mental health. Although time spent in undisturbed wilderness has the best results, even seeing a tree outside the window can boost an individual’s mood. Nature reduces rumination, improves cognitive function and tones down physiological stress. This means that simply adding trees in urban areas can significantly reduce stress for residents.
3. It Creates Relationships
Healthy communities include parks and playgrounds where families can get to know each other and children can play safely. These facilities offer opportunities for communal bonding, improving individuals’ health through connection. When people spend time together outside, social-economic boundaries become less important. Relationships become about the people rather than their accomplishments and possessions.
You can start to build community simply by introducing yourself to your neighbors. Make use of public facilities like parks and talk to local officials about improving outdoor recreation in your area. Get a group of volunteers together to pick up trash along the road. Spend time outside, care for your yard and improve your home’s curb appeal. Every positive action you take will better your community’s health and encourage a growing sense of community.
4. It Increases Awareness
Community safety is another reason to invest in community health. Connected communities are safe communities where neighbors can watch out for each other. In connected communities, it’s easy to notice if something is off. You know your neighbors, their families and their habits. A sense of community creates a common purpose that leaves no room for criminal behavior.
In environments where everyone is known, people who aren’t familiar stand out. For this reason, healthy communities are less likely to have break-ins, porch thieves or carjackings. Children are safe playing outside alone because friends and neighbors are watching out for them. Healthy communities encourage not only connection but also public safety.
5. It Changes Futures
Every parent’s dream is to give their child more opportunities than they had growing up. Communities that focus on health equip kids to live stronger, healthier lives. Kids in these communities grow up learning about health, playing outside and eating quality food. They’re equipped to make strong social connections and are less likely to suffer from mental illness as a result of isolation or anxiety.
Healthy communities can help kids get their best start in life. They’re safer and offer natural environments for kids to explore. Through outdoor play, kids gain independence and the critical thinking skills they need for lifelong success. Children who grow up in healthy communities also learn to care about the value of their environment. They’re less likely to smoke, abuse substances or participate in risky behaviors that could end in injury or death.
Healthy Communities = Healthy Futures
Encouraging health in your community leads to happier individuals and a happier world. Communities that are planned with health in mind can lengthen lives and improve mental health. You can invest in these benefits by finding safe ways to engage with and improve your existing community.
In healthy communities, relationships thrive. This sense of connection protects your neighborhood and can reduce mental illness caused by isolation. Kids who grow up in healthy communities are equipped to meet life’s challenges with the gifts of resilience, strong social skills and a sense of independence. Investing in a healthy community is truly an investment into a healthy future.
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