“We shape the cities, and then our cities shape us.” That’s one of my favorite lines from the documentary The Human Scale, featuring Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl. I like it because I don’t think many of us think enough about the way in which the built environment – that we create – ultimately goes on to influence the way we live our lives.
One of the most interesting connections for me is the link between urban form and public health. There’s been a lot of talk over the years about how suburban sprawl is, or might be, making us fat (among other things). We’ve created environments that are only navigable by cars and that has forced many of us into sedentary lifestyles. We sit in our cars, and then we sit in our offices.
So today I’d like to conduct a bit of a poll. If you’d like to participate, please share the following 3 things in the comment section below: 1) your city, 2) the type of neighborhood you live in (urban, suburban, rural, etc.), and 3) the amount of time you spend walking or doing something active on an average day.
I live downtown Toronto in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood (urban). I take the subway to work and the station is a 10 minute walk from my place. So as a bare minimum, I spend at least 20 minutes a day walking. But since I also walk to do most of my regular errands, and since my gym is another 10 minute walk from my place, I’d say I average a good 30-45 minutes of walking each day.
Now it’s your turn 🙂
This is a pretty crude survey, but with the advent of things like smartwatches and health monitors, I think we’ll soon have lots of great data on the ways in which our cities might shape our health.
Image: The Economist