The communities we live in play an important role in our health and wellbeing. By providing us with opportunities to get active, to access healthy foods and to make new friends, our communities have an impact on our health.
The physical aspects of communities, such as the amount of park space, walking trails, and proximity to stores that provide healthy food options are just as important to our health as the social aspects such as knowing our neighbours and those around us. Communities that provide opportunities to be active and to make connections with one another enhance residents’ quality of life.
The physical aspects of communities can positively influence how we live, work and play. By providing us with the ability to make healthy choices such as paths that allow us to walk instead of drive and parks that encourage active play, our communities help us feel a sense of well-being in our daily lives. Albertans can foster healthy communities by advocating for the development and maintenance of paths, parks, arenas, and community centers.
Parks and arenas are important to our health because they promote physical activity as well as social connections. Parks give children the space to make new friends and to exercise. Arenas allow parents to connect with one another and form support networks during their children’s hockey games. Curling rinks give people the opportunity to maintain social circles and remain active. High levels of community involvement can be achieved when communities have livable neighbourhoods that encourage people to form connections.
A community with high levels of social involvement is one where residents can participate, contribute and access opportunities. When people are engaged in their community, they care about and participate in sports teams and neighbourhood watch; they make connections with their neighbours and create strong social support networks. Communities with high levels of social interaction are places where people are safe and included. Having strong social connections with those in our communities has been shown to make people feel healthier and to actually protect against chronic disease and mental illness.
It is important to ensure that communities are built with our health in mind. Creating engaging communities cannot be achieved through any one organization, business, or government, but requires all of us working together.
I am interested in hearing what social and physical aspects of your community keep you healthy?
What could you or your community do to make your community a healthier place to raise a family?