City living can be bad for your health

Photo credit: Ramil Ugot from Pexels

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

That air and noise pollution as well as a lack of green space may impede on the mental and physical health of urban dwellers is not surprising. Yet, as Carla Delgado points out in her article at Discover, noise pollution gets less attention especially with many people believing it is a “byproduct of modern life.” Yet, the literature linking noise to adverse physical and mental health effects, e. g. hearing loss, cardiovascular disorders, sleep patterns, cognitive and learning abilities is plentiful. Quiet areas, including parks and green spaces, on the other hand, enhance our health and well-being.

Delgardo writes about a research project called Urban Living at Kings College, London which is collecting data from volunteers who have been given an app that can measure their experiences in urban and rural environments. The researchers hope the data they collect “may involve the planning and design of healthier cities.” City dwellers hope this as well.

William Sullivan, a professor at the University of Illinois who is the Director of the University’s Smart, Healthy and Communities initiative, urges people in cities to seek out green spaces and parks in their communities “to protect their physical and mental wellbeing.” He adds that you not bring your electronic devices to these green spaces. Sullivan also wisely directs city officials to create more green spaces in their cities “to promote the health and wellbeing of urban residents.”

As a New Yorker, I know two things: 1) New York City can be very noisy, and 2) there are some wonderful parks and green spaces in our city. This is true of other cities as well. Thus, I do hope readers of this article will visit their urban parks and green areas, minus the electronic devices. But I would also suggest they partner up with groups and organizations to urge public officials to do two things: 1) reduce urban noises and 2) protect and improve existing parks and green areas and add more of these healthy environments to their cities.

Make city living good for your health!

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