How Living In A City Affects Your Health Includes Pros & Cons, So Here's What You Need To Know
The question of where you call home is an important one, and there are plenty of factors to consider when it comes to where you'd like to settle down. Maybe, deep down, you know in your heart that you're a natural-born city dweller. You live for the hustle and bustle of it all, and you love that feeling of looking up and seeing a big skyscraper that takes your breath away. But how does living in a city affect your health? You might be surprised by the role your environment can play in your overall wellness.
Of course, like most things in life, there are pros and cons to living in a city, and ultimately, it's up to you whether a location like this makes sense to call home. Regardless, it's worth noting that, for most people in the U.S., the place they call home is indeed a city: A 2015 report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that nearly 63 percent of the population live in cities (even though cities comprise only 3.5 percent of the actual land in the U.S.).
Below, experts reveal a few ways your environment can affect your health and overall well-being when you live in a bustling metropolis.
Not having a car is pretty great for you
While public transportation can be a drag and certainly troublesome sometimes, when it works, it's a freakin' dream, not to mention so much better for the environment overall. Lucy Anna Scott, author of the book Mindful Thoughts for City Dwellers: The Joy of Urban Living, points out that there are definitely ways in which living in a city can be more sustainable, and one of them starts with not needing a car. Plus, when you aren't getting on the train or in a Lyft, you're probably gettin' those steps in, if you know what I mean.
"Urban density means I don’t need a car to get everywhere, or indeed anywhere," she tells Elite Daily by email.
The air isn't very clean, though, TBH
I'm not coughing, you're coughing. Yup, Dr. Clare Morrison of MedExpress says that, while it can be full of opportunity and excitement, living in a city can prove rather detrimental for your health long-term, and part of that has to do with the air you breathe.
"Airborne particles and pollutants found mostly in cities have been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, diabetes, and asthma," she tells Elite Daily.
Light, sound, and space pollution are pretty relentless
If I had to guess, you're probably pretty familiar with the whole air pollution thing, but Dr. Morrison says the potentially negative effects of noise, light, and even crowd pollution is relatively unknown to people.
As for sounds? "Even just living by a busy road can expose people to higher levels of transport and urban city noise, which can disturb our sleep quality at night," she explains. "Elevated workplace or environmental noise pollution can cause hearing impairment, hypertension, stress, annoyance, and sleep disturbance."
Additionally, says Morrison, artificial light exposure from streetlights has been linked to poor sleep, as well as increased stress, among those who live in cities. Oh, and the big crowds in cities don't really help with stress either, she explains. "It can all increase production of the stress hormone cortisol," Dr. Morrison tells Elite Daily.
Not having access to nature might not be great for you
As you might already know, spending time in and being around nature can have a really positive impact on your health, so the plain truth is, since you don't really get a lot of greenery in most cities, you're potentially missing out on some of those health benefits.
However, Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping and accredited designer in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, tells Elite Daily over email that, while city living certainly presents a few challenges to your health, having at least some access to nature can help make a difference. "[Time in nature] improves concentration, reduces symptoms of ADHD, PTSD, asthma, and allergies, and inspires greater mobility," Aoyagi explains.
By creating opportunities to view and experience nature within cities, like parks and public trails, Aoyagi says, "we can dramatically improve our health, resilience, and social equity."