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Good urban design - the health and wellbeing pill you didn’t know you needed

17 September 2015

How much does the environment we live in affect our mental and physical health? Not just in terms of climate, but also the experiences your environment provides. How much could you improve the health – and therefore wellbeing and productivity – of your community by redeveloping your urban environment?

Exposure to enjoyable environments improves health and wellbeing

A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania established a direct link between participants’ heart rates – a known indicator of physical and psychological wellbeing – and their surrounding environment.

By measuring the heart rate of participants as they walked past a series of vacant lots – some dilapidated, some newly developed gardens – researchers found a clear correlation between the remediated lots and lower participant heart rates.

The study stated that being able to see a redeveloped vacant lot where plants were growing decreased heart rate significantly more than being able to see an overgrown and neglected vacant lot, or no vacant lot at all.

Take advantage of underdeveloped community spaces for the benefit of public health

For healthcare experts and urban planners alike, these findings represent a viable potential prevention to the increasing strain on the public’s physical and mental health. The return on the investment into developing more green spaces from neglected areas in urban environments is infinite – it’s no secret that better health and wellbeing produces better productivity in any industry.

However, many decision-makers do not initially see the advantages of developing public spaces. It can be a costly exercise for what seems like a few immediate, measurable results. That’s why your community needs people like you – engineering and healthcare leaders – to work as advocates for the future of your community.

Connect across industries to make the change you want in your community

Once you have a great idea to improve the lives of your community, you will need to work with leaders from other fields to bring your plans to life. Collaboration makes room for more societal benefits, and therefore a strengthened argument to stakeholders.

How often have you seen a completed public project and thought of small – and obvious to you – changes that would have improved the results exponentially? This is a trait that healthcare professionals and engineers share, as problem solvers for your community.

There is a huge potential for the healthcare and engineering industries to work together more frequently and share your specific knowledge for the benefit of the community.

Once you’ve laid your groundwork together, use your skills in stakeholder management, sustainability, public policy and funding, and economics to advise federal, state or local governments to make positive urban planning decisions that improve the health of the community.

To get the credentials you need to design a better future, speak to one of our Student Enrolment Advisors. We’re available Monday – Friday on 1300 863 819.