Mean Streets; ANEW STUDY CLAIMS CITY LIVING IS BAD FOR OUR HEALTH, LEAVING US FEELING STRESSED OUT AND AT GREATER RISK OF HEART DISEASE. BUT THERE ARE WAYS OF IMPROVING YOUR QUALITY OF CITY LIFE
Byline: By Craig McQueen
ANYONE who lives in a large city will know the stresses and strains of everyday life can take their toll.
But you wouldn't imagine that urban life could possibly be as bad for you as living near Chernobyl.
And yet last week saw one scientist claim the health impact of living near the doomed Russian nuclear reactor was now no greater than a number of other health risks associated with urban living.
Dr Jim Smith, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said exposure to radiation was no worse than air pollution or passive smoking.
So how exactly do the cities we live in affect our health? Here's a look at the health problems our cities can cause, along with some ways of improving our wellbeing which are right on our doorstep.
How city living is bad for your health
There's no question the daily grind of city living is one of the major causes of stress. Even if you enjoy your job and have a happy home life, the stresses involved in keeping different balls in the air can leave you vulnerable to stress and there's more chance of that happening when you live in the city. Living in close proximity to others and dealing with the daily hustle and bustle of city life is all it takes to stress you out.
The quality of the air we breathe in our cities can have a big impact on our health. Breathing in polluted air can have a number of adverse effects on us and not just for people suffering from conditions such as asthma. Studies have shown polluted air can affect the development of the lungs in children, as well as substantially increasing the likelihood of heart disease or a stroke.
Everyday noise pollution affects the health of millions of people who don't even realise the damage it is causing them. Sources of noise such as traffic, planes, lawn mowers, road works and alarms all contribute, with continuous exposure to noise of more than 70 decibels capable of causing damage. As well as affecting our hearing, noise can also increase stress and cause other health problems.
While different studies have produced mixed results, it is generally accepted that there are higher rates of depression and anxiety in urban areas. And although living in rural areas can lead to isolation, it's just as possible to feel isolated when living in the city. You are also more likely to recover from a mental illness if you move somewhere where the population is less dense.
Living in the city makes it more likely you'll have a poor diet, as the chances are your busy lifestyle will lead to you relying on snacks, convenience foods and a diet packed with fat and sugar, as that's what's readily available. …