The Benefits of a Healthy Community — And 5 Ways to Get One
- 06 08
The symptoms are everywhere - uncleanliness and unhappiness, among others - and the disease is the same: America’s communities are unhealthy. Not only is obesity and the related health problems (heart disease, cancer, diabetes and others just as insidious) on the rise, but the general atmosphere of apathy and distaste for one another is causing more problems than can be told.
So many of the issues faced by modern Americans could be remedied by improving communities, and the best part is that it is easier and more fun than you can imagine. A healthy community is not only a community that is free from major preventable health complications and causes, like inappropriate diet or smoking, but one whose environment is positive and clean.
People in a healthy community have a healthy life outlook, which makes almost everything more tolerable. Here are five super simplesteps you can take to make you and your community a healthier place to live and be.
Organize a Community Fitness initiative
Sure, exercise can be hard, but it’s even harder when you have no clue where to start. Many people in your community may want to work on their fitness, but they feel at a loss when it comes to what exercises are appropriate or even feasible for their skill level. You can help these people out by organizing a community program to educate and encourage people to be more active.
You don’t have to be a fitness instructor or trainer to create a fitness plan for your community. Really all you need to do is motivate people to walk around their neighborhood or ride their bikes on weekends. Then, you can get everyone some inexpensive but effective pedometers to help them keep track of how they’re reaching their fitness goals.
Promote Community Activities
One major reason our communities are floundering is that people are spending too much time holed up in their homes spending time by themselves instead of interacting with people in community spaces. Not only does this allow the community spirit to wither and die, but it allows community spaces to rot away as well.
Inspire your community to start working together to improve the neighborhood. Organize a day for people in the area to come volunteer to pick up trash or rebuild a local recreation area. Making your community shine isn’t hard, and working together to make it better builds strong relationships which benefits the overall community atmosphere. If you need some ideas, here is a list of initiatives by small towns around the country to mend and develop their community spaces.
Educate About Healthy Meals
Like with exercise, people might want to eat healthily, but have become confused and overwhelmed by the tsunami of information available to them about nutrition and dieting. Instead of trying to preach about fad diets or explaining the complexities of macro- and micronutrients, explain to your community the basic guidelines of eating healthy. Resources abound with simple and non-restrictive diet plans; the USDA designed My Plate to make nutrition as easy to understand as possible.
If you find your community is still struggling to grasp the core concepts of healthy eating, or if you want to test their knowledge in a fun and interactive way, organize a neighborhood potluck dinner. Everyone can bring their own favorite healthy dish, and you can compare and explain the health benefits of everyone’s choices.
Encourage Interactive Hobbies
While watching television and playing video games may be addictive, they don’t exactly boost community engagement. Try to get members of your community outside and interacting with one another by explaining the benefits of productive outdoor hobbies.
Gardening can be extremely rewarding; planting tiny seeds and seeing them grow into a beautiful flower arrangement or productive vegetable patch will show people the benefits of perseverance and hard work. Alternatively, for those lacking any green fingers, knitting or crocheting is easily performed anywhere and allows for group interaction during the creation process.
Foster a Welcoming Environment
Unhappy people often want other people to be unhappy, too. It’s a vicious and depressive cycle that kills communities. Many of the other items on this list work to break the spell of unhappiness caused by unhealthy communities, but if you still feel some hostility in your community despite its increasing health, you might need to talk to people about their welcoming spirit.
Make sure your neighbors are communicating their opinions and problems clearly with one another, and try to dispel discrimination (whatever form it may take) as it arises. With a little hard work and a positive attitude, you should see your community brightening in no time.
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