Did you know your postcode could be making you unhealthy? Thanks to daft urban design, not all of us have parks, gyms, sporting fields or decent healthy food stores nearby.
Instead we have a problem called “urban sprawl” which sees few buildings spread over a vast area resulting in our dependency on cars or public transport to travel from home to office.
According to research, people living in “sprawled” cities are less likely to walk due to safety issues; less likely to purchase healthy food as twice as many fast food outlets are present; have a higher body mass index; and exercise less because there are fewer kilometres of walking tracks.
So what can you do to combat this problem? Caitlin Reid, accredited practising dietitian and exercise physiologist, has these tips.
• Know your surroundings: Use the map below to get an understanding of your surroundings. Plot in your house, the local parks and the healthy takeaway outlets. Is there a supermarket nearby? Plot that too. Plot how far your work is from your home. Identifying what you have access to, makes getting healthy easier.
• Access parks, gyms and sporting grounds: Workout how you can access your local parks, gyms and sporting grounds. Does it require you to spend 10 minutes driving there and back? Or is it longer than that? If it is longer, are you able to walk around your suburb or block? If you can’t, can you get a gym membership or buy a home workout DVD?
• Exercise in numbers: If your area is dangerous, workout in numbers. Get your friends together or join a running group and become active. Alternatively take the session indoors.
• Research your local takeaway: Find the healthiest takeaway food outlet closest to you and use this outlet as a back up for when you don’t have time to cook.
• Search for the supermarket: Know where your closest supermarket is and the time it opens and closes. Make grocery shopping a weekly priority.
• Becoming a smart traveller: If you have to drive or get public transport to work, think about how you can fit exercise in too. You could walk to the bus stop or get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
Caitlin Reid is the author of Health & The City (Longueville Media, $22.95), www.healthandthecity.com.au