The environment in which a person lives – the home, community, city and country – has a major impact on their ability to lead healthy lifestyles, to self-care. Today, cities house more than half of the world’s population. Cities can hold both the best and worst environments for health and well-being, as many aspects combine to influence the health status of city dwellers. Specific determinants of health in urban settings include population characteristics, cultural norms, urban planning, the natural and built environment, the social and economic environment, food security and quality, and the health services.
Cities need to be designed effectively to help give their populations sustainable access to a healthy environment and the opportunity to lead healthy lifestyles. They need to give them access to, for example, activity through health-conscious infrastructure designs, safe and secure environments, education and incentives to self-care, and social well-being through community spaces where people can come together. City authorities have a complex challenge in helping city residents to lead healthy lifestyles. But city planning and the practice of self-care can come together to make a mutually supporting web to create a new age of healthy behaviours and healthier lifestyles. In designing healthy cities which encourage healthy lifestyles, city authorities can help achieve sustainability for the future, by reshaping demand for health services, reducing the disease burden caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Self-care helps people to stay healthy and empowers them to manage their health within the home and community environment, well before the healthcare system is called upon.
Given the importance of healthy cities the ISF World Healthy City Award has been created to recognise those cities which have undertaken significant steps towards creating a living environment specifically conducive to self-care and healthy lifestyles. Nominations for the Award are welcome – please contact email@example.com