Healthy Community Design: Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

Your zip code can impact your life expectancy and how healthy you are more than your genetic code. The physical design of a community can affect your physical and mental health. It’s not always easy to get exercise if you don’t have sidewalks in your neighborhood or live close to a park or trail. It’s not always easy to eat right if you don’t live close to a grocery store or can’t afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. Communities that use healthy community design principles are helping to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Healthy Community Design Principles

  • Mixed-land use: homes, shops, schools, and work are close together
  • Public transit
  • Pedestrian and bicycle-friendly
  • Accessible and socially equitable community
  • Housing for different incomes and different stages of life
  • Green spaces and parks that are easy to walk to
  • Safe public places for social interaction
  • Fresh, healthy food outlets

Healthy Community Design Benefits

  • Improve air and water quality
  • Lower the risk of traffic-related injuries
  • Easier to include physical activity into everyday life
  • Increase access to healthy food
  • Increase social connectivity and sense of community
  • Ensure social equity for all community members
  • Promote good mental health

You can help make your community healthier by attending community meetings where decisions are made about how land will be used, talking with elected official and working for policy change. You can ask decision-makers if they are considering the health impacts of their decisions. You can use the CDC’s healthy community design check list to guide your conversations with community leaders.

You can help make the healthy choice the easy choice!