4 Surprising Ways Cities Keep You Healthy

From block parties to bike shares, urban planning plays a hidden role in keeping you active.

When it comes to urban planning and public health, Vancouver has come a long way. But there’s still plenty more we can do. According to Richard Carpiano, Ph.D, sociology professor at UBC, the challenges Vancouver faces in terms of addressing public health are pretty common: “The population of the world is becoming more urbanized, and more people are moving to cities,” says Carpiano, “It’s important to think about how we address the issue of a growing population. We need to design cities to accommodate these populations in a healthy way.”The City of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, a four-year plan to increase the health and well-being of Vancouverites, tackles a range of topics relating to urban planning and public health including transportation, building community connections, mental health and more. With this plan in mind, here are four ways to stay healthy in the city!

1. Host or attend a block party.

What better way to build community connections than a neighbourhood block party? According to the City of Vancouver, block parties don’t just let you meet new people, they help make streets safer and keep people happy. “Healthy environments make healthy people,” says Carpiano, “There are a lot of benefits to building communities where people know and trust each other, which can have spillover effects for promoting safety and preventing crime.” Check out the City of Vancouver’s website for some tips on how to throw an awesome block party—or where to find one near you.

2. Head to the park!

Nothing soothes the soul more than nature, and thankfully, Vancouver has plenty of parks to choose from. You can conquer the Stanley Park Seawall, enjoy the Queen Elizabeth gardens or simply take a walk in your neighbourhood park. No matter your choice, going out in nature is crucial in maintaining your physical and mental health (plus, it’s really fun).

3. Walk, bike or transit to work.

According to the City of Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, active transportation helps add exercise to your regular routine. “These days, urban planning is important when it comes to encouraging physical activity and designing things like bicycle paths and places to walk, while also minimizing risk from traffic,” says Carpiano. Don’t own a bike? No problem! Vancouver’s public bike share program, Mobi, provides a fun and affordable way to get around.

4. Express yourself! Participate in local arts and culture.

Not only is Vancouver a haven for artists, it’s also rich in culture and diversity. The city hosts a variety of arts-related events, from dance performances and art galleries to lively street festivals. According to the Healthy City Strategy, participating in arts and culture can increase self-confidence, build bonds and help celebrate the contributions of Vancouver’s diverse communities.

For more health and wellness tips, subscribe to the Vancouver Insider!