Is City Living Bad For Your Health?

From smart restaurants and fashionable bars to cosmopolitan shops and vast entertainment centres, city living has much to offer. And the number of people choosing a city, rather than a rural lifestyle is increasing yearly. In 1900, just 14 per cent of the world’s population lived in cities. By 2010, the figure had risen to around 50 per cent and the United Nations predicts that by 2050, 70 per cent of people will be city dwellers. But what are the health implications of city living?

Physiological Health

A growing number of studies highlight a range of health problems caused by city environments. In fact, researchers have found that city living is a factor in many health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, immune disorders and mental health illnesses. Some studies even show that a city environment could have a detrimental effect on health even before birth. Although babies born in cities are often heavier than those born in the country, they also had a higher level of chemical pollutants in their blood, which have entered the baby’s bloodstream via the placenta during pregnancy. These chemical pollutants – called xenoestrogens – are linked to a range of health issues in children including hyperactivity, the early onset of puberty, obesity and some cancers.

Physical Health

As well as the risk from pollution, city dwellers often spend a large part of their day indoors, meaning they miss out on the positive health benefits of exercise, fresh air and making vitamin D from sensible skin exposure to sunlight. Even during time off, city recreation is more likely to take place within leisure centres, shopping malls or cinemas rather than walking or playing in the fresh air.

In addition, children who are brought up in an urban environment are not exposed to the same range of bacteria as those who live in a rural setting. Rather than protecting them from germs, this can mean that their immune systems do not develop properly leading to a range of illnesses and allergies.

Psychological Health

From an emotional perspective, city living also carries a range of emotional risks. The fast pace of city life can be overwhelming for some people and although you may be surrounded by people, it can be difficult to form meaningful relationships in a city.

City dwellers often live a long way from their families and with pressures to be successful and fashionable, many young people living in the city can develop emotional problems such as eating disorders which are less common for young people living in the semi-urban areas.

But for many, the decision to live in a city is not their own – financial or work pressures may mean that they have no choice but to stay in the city environment. If this is the case, one way you can boost your health is to spend more time outdoors and seek out traffic-free environments such as a local park or a city garden during your time off. And if you are able to take a holiday, choose coastal or rural locations – rather than heading to other cities for your break.

Comments are closed.