With pollution levels steadily rising, and obesity and heart disease causing an increasing number of deaths each year, it would seem as though many places around the world could easily be labelled as unhealthy. However, there are certain cities that are actively encouraging its residents to adopt a healthy lifestyle, reducing air pollution and providing high quality healthcare at the same time, making them some of the healthiest cities in the world. OROGOLD examines the healthiest cities in the world here.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a busy city, packed with professionals and young families, but unlike other bustling cities in Europe, Copenhagen does not suffer from low air quality. It is one of the only cities in the world that has managed to replace the driving culture with a walking and cycling culture, with over 80% of all traffic in the city coming from pedestrians. The city has over 300kms of bicycle lanes and offers free token bikes to tourists who want to get around the city. Employees in Copenhagen also work less hours than average, giving them more time to take part in the many free community programs that are hosted around the city, from sports to laughter yoga to basket weaving. 2015 also sees a new law being introduced in Copenhagen, stating that all residents must be able to walk to their nearest park in less than 15 minutes.
Vancouver is the only major North American city that does not have an interstate running through it, and with such a successful public transportation system, and miles of cycle lanes, it is no surprise that Vancouver is considered to be the most ‘walkable’ city in Canada. Strict environmental standards for businesses, as well as the evergreen forests and the shift away from the usage of cars, gives the city some of the cleanest air in the world. Residents of Vancouver also enjoy easy access to huge green spaces, freshwater lakes, the ocean and the nearby mountain ranges.
With one of the highest population densities of any city in the world, it may seem surprising that Hong Kong could be considered a healthy city. However, it is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and much of the socializing is done in neighborhood restaurants. Almost 45% of all trips in Hong Kong are carried out on foot, and although the built up city may seem claustrophobic at times, Hong Kong island is surrounded by mountains, the ocean, and other less developed islands. There is an extremely high number of registered doctors in the city, with many of them practicing traditional Chinese medicine, focusing on a more holistic approach to illnesses and diseases. The martial art of Tai Chi, which brings about many health benefits, is also encouraged in Hong Kong, and you will see people of every age group practicing this ancient exercise in the public spaces around the city.
Healthy cities are not just ones with great doctors. Instead, they encourage a healthier lifestyle, whilst actively working on reducing pollution. They have also long recognized the importance of having a green and natural environment nearby, something which many cities around the world are also now slowly learning.