Ever considered how your neighbor, your gym, or even your phone could make a substantial impact on your health? The people around you and the community you live in can affect several aspects of your life. In addition, the digital community you build can have just as much of a positive impact on your life as those who physically surround you. Read on to learn about the benefits of living in a healthy community.
In Creating Healthy Communities, Healthy Homes, Healthy People: Initiating a Research Agenda on the Built Environment and Public Health, the authors state that “human-modified places such as homes, schools, workplaces, parks, industrial areas, farms, roads and highways— are our most important habitat.” These are all various components of a community, which can stem from the house you live in, the school you go to in your district, or the gym that you use close by.
Here are 5 ways in which living in a healthy community can impact your life.
1. Better Physical Health
Living in a community that allows you to have good access to medical care, wellness amenities, and healthy foods (depending on the supermarkets and farmers markets nearby!) boosts your physical health.
The All of Us Research Program’s mission is to create easier access for diverse communities so that they can receive good medical care and preventative treatment. Through All of Us’ extensive research in underrepresented communities, it is able to create personalized care and preventative treatments for those in every community.
2. Better Mental Health
Extensive research surrounding mental health has concluded that mental health is equally as important as physical health. Nurturing your own mind, especially during a time of crisis, can greatly impact your daily life. Feeling included within a community can also impact your sense of self and purpose. This can be proven to be true through anything from having a fitness buddy to being involved in an organization or your family.
The Owaves app allows you to plan your daily routine, which in turn makes you feel more in control of your days and weeks. Not only does the app strive to help relieve feelings of anxiety and lack of control, but it also allows you to be a part of a community that supports your mental well-being, through its new #MyMoai feature. #MyMoai is able to keep you connected to your peers, in an effort to help you feel less alone, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.
3. Stronger Community Support
Within a community, the social interactions you have can highly impact your mental and physical health. Research shows that many mental and physical health conditions, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance abuse, aggressive behavior, asthma, heart disease, and obesity, relate to your particular environment. In order to sustain your health, it is important to have a strong community that you are able to turn to and be supported by.
Aside from the immense amount of support I get from my colleagues on the Owaves team, I am also able to ensure connections with family and friends through the app’s #MyMoai feature. This feature allows me to check in with my own community members, feeling connected to them even if miles apart.
4. Cleaner Environment
The physical environment in which you live also plays an important role in your overall health.
Scientists have defined environmental health to be aspects of “human health, disease, and injury that are determined or influenced by factors in the environment.”
The All of Us Research Program understands how critical it is to take into account the environment in which we live. Factoring in someone’s living situation and zip code can also play a part in understanding individual medical needs. Precision medicine is the practice of incorporating genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors.
5. More Holistic Educational Opportunities
Educational opportunities are highly dependent on the community you are involved in, as school access depends on district boundaries. Living in a community with strong educational institutions and resources enhances your well-being.
It is also true, however, that living in a healthy community heavily depends on your socioeconomic status. Those who possess a higher socioeconomic status and live in a more affluent neighborhood have a higher chance at attaining a strong, healthy community. This in turn creates large health disparities for those who are able to be surrounded by a strong community and those who don’t have access.
In the new digital world we are living in, particularly due to COVID-19, it has become increasingly important to recognize who is included in your community aside from the physical world. Although there have been clear disadvantages to less in-person communication with our community members, the digital age might be what we need in order to close the barrier between those that are in a high socioeconomic neighborhood and those that are in a lower class community. Through contributions, like the Owaves #MyMoai feature, we can now create an even more prominent digital community that can hold similar benefits to a physical community.
Srinivasan, S., O’fallon, L. R., & Dearry, A. (2003). Creating healthy communities, healthy homes, healthy people: initiating a research agenda on the built environment and public health. American journal of public health, 93(9), 1446-1450.
Turner, J., Smith, J., Bryant, K., Haynes, T., Stewart, M. K., Kuo, D. Z., … & Yeary, K. H. C. K. (2017). Community building community: the distinct benefits of community partners building other communities’ capacity to conduct health research. Progress in community health partnerships: research, education, and action, 11(1), 81.
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