Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Commuting’s Hidden Cost – NYTimes.com

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Commuting’s Hidden Cost – NYTimes.com.

Excerpts

Millions of Americans like her pay dearly for their dependence on automobiles, losing hours a day that would be better spent exercising, socializing with family and friends, preparing home-cooked meals or simplygetting enough sleep. The resulting costs to both physical and mental healthare hardly trivial.

Suburban sprawl “has taken a huge toll on our health,” wrote Ms. Gallagher, an editor at Fortune magazine. “Research has been piling up that establishes a link between the spread of sprawl and the rise of obesity in our country. Researchers have also found that people get less exercise as the distances among where we live, work, shop and socialize increase.

“In places where people walk more, obesity rates are much lower,” she noted. “New Yorkers, perhaps the ultimate walkers, weigh six or seven pounds less on average than suburban Americans.”

A recent study of 4,297 Texans compared their health with the distances they commuted to and from work.It showed that as these distances increased, physical activity and cardiovascular fitness dropped, and blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference and metabolic risks rose.

The report, published last year in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine by Christine M. Hoehner and colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Cooper Institute in Dallas, provided causal evidence for earlier findings that linked the time spent driving to an increased risk of cardiovascular death. The study examined the effects of a lengthy commute on health over the course of seven years. It revealed that driving more than 10 miles one way, to and from work, five days a week was associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar and high cholesterol. The researchers also linked long driving commutes to a greater risk of depression, anxiety and social isolation, all of which can impair the quality and length of life

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Read the entire article here

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment

Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment

This project strives to ” offer best practice models to improve our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment” [From their about page]

The present focus areas are Health,Transportation, Design, Food, and People.

Links in each of the above 5 areas include related PBS  series episodes and programs (as Tavis Smiley ),  related studies (as Pew reports),  and other related videos and news items.

Information about one this project’s DVD series Designing Healthy Communities (to be shown on PBS) may be found at http://designinghealthycommunities.org/designing-healthy-communities-complete-dvd-series/

Excerpt:

Developers in the last half-century called it progress when they built homes and shopping malls far from city centers throughout the country, sounding the death knell for many downtowns. But now an alarmed cadre of public health experts say these expanded metropolitan areas have had a far more serious impact on the people who live there by creating vehicle-dependent environments that foster obesity, poor health, social isolation, excessive stress and depression.

As a result, these experts say, our “built environment” — where we live, work, play and shop — has become a leading cause of disability and death in the 21st century.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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