Location can affect health in several ways. Your environment has a direct impact on your physical and mental health. It can affect your physical health through circumstances like altitude, weather, and pollutants. The area’s social factors also play a part in social networks, access to care, and perception of risk behaviors.
But most people are aware of economic conditions like the quality of nutrition, access to health insurance, and health facilities. Sometimes you are conscious of the environmental factors, and sometimes you aren’t. If you know them, you can proactively choose better locations or improve your current ones.
Where You Choose to Live
When looking for an area to live, people start with the cost of living there. The primary cost will be rent or starter price for a home. Once that is established, they move on to property tax, transport costs, rates, and other monthly expenses they anticipate in the area.
An area’s safety is usually related to its proximity to a police station. Families are more sensitive to the proximity of social services in the area. A family with kids or taking care of their elders will look for nearby hospitals and health services. Schools are a determinant for young families as well.
After looking at the essentials, people usually like to get a feel or aesthetics of the place to see if it is agreeable. A young graduate will be keener to live in an area that’s vibrant and alive even at night, while a retiree will be looking for peace and quiet.
Although people want a say on where they live, they may find restrictions. Sometimes where you work or where the kids go to school may cause you to disregard many preferences. If your money isn’t enough, you will be in the position of compromising on some of your criteria.
How Your Location Matters
Your mental health is fluid; small events can affect your mood as you go about your day, while significant events, like school shootings and natural disasters, can impact entire populations.
Researchers are actively trying to quantify how a location can affect your mood. They now have access to technology that helps them to measure data. Mobile devices, like cellphones, have geotracking software like GPS, and wearable devices, like smartwatches, can provide real-time data on vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. Social media also gives insights into how people feel and react to significant events. What they find will lend itself to knowledge that is present.
Wellbeing and Nutrition
Food is an essential resource in your lifestyle. Your diet determines your physical health and, ultimately, your state of mind. A good location will have access to affordable healthy food. In contrast, a bad one, called food deserts, won’t have access to these. Food deserts have low access to nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables but easy access to fast food and processed foods like chips.
Food deserts have corner stores and gas stations in the place of grocery stores or farmers’ markets. The stores in a food desert have limited shelf space and resources to store fresh food, which is why they end up with food that’s cheap and high in preservatives.
The communities which have food deserts are usually poor ones. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a food desert is a community in a location with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent. In urban areas, 33 percent of the community will live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store, while in rural areas, 44 percent of the population will live more than 15 miles from the nearest grocery store.
Because they don’t have access to healthy options, communities in food deserts are likely to be obese and malnutrition. Obesity leads to health complications like high blood pressure, heart disease, and birth complications. Nutrition deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system, cognitive difficulties, and stunted growth.
Resolving Environmental Effects
A lot of the environmental issues in an area have a solution. Suppose you want more trees and greenery in your area, then you can plant them. If you don’t have access to healthy food or services, you can demand action from your representatives.
They can avail transport lines to your needs or tweak local laws and tax codes to entice service providers into your area. For example, a mall project can house many service providers so that you can access dental work, supermarkets, or purchase sunglasses with prescription lenses to practice better eye care.
Location, Location, Location
A location can have a profound effect on your wellbeing. That being said, you don’t have to be a product of your environment. You can work to improve your community, especially for future generations.