Where is the healthiest place to live?

People have been suggesting answers to this for hundreds of years. For example, Hippocrates wrote in 400 BC about the importance of choosing somewhere healthy, based on factors such as location, prevailing wind and water supply. And during the Industrial Revolution, people pointed to the healthiness of life in the countryside compared with overcrowded and polluted cities.

In the 19th Century, emphasis was placed on the recuperative and health benefits of coastal air and sea bathing – with the result that many workers took their annual holidays at the seaside. Charities were stimulated to open tuberculosis hospitals and convalescent homes in country and coastal locations.

Even today, many people head to the coast for holidays or to live after retirement. Intuitively, that might seem a healthy idea – but is it?

Recently, a group of researchers looked into this*. They were based in the South-West of England, an area much visited by holiday-makers and which attracts a lot of retirees.

The researchers compared health statistics across England with where people lived, and showed that living near the coast was indeed associated with better health. Interestingly, they found that people who were more socially deprived gained the greatest health benefits. The explanation they suggested for the results was that living near the coast gave greater opportunities for stress reduction and physical activity.

Plainly not everyone can live at the seaside, but the study does show the continuing need for us to think carefully about our built environment and the impact it has on our health.

 

*Link to the study: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.06.015

 

Professor Brian Kirby, co-author of How to Live to 110: Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life

© 2012 How to Live to 110 Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha