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How Your Environment Shapes Your Health

Everyone knows that diet and exercise have a huge affect on a person’s overall health, but there are a lot of other factors involved as well, especially when it comes to their environment. Changing the environment can greatly impact your health and put you on the road to a better sense of wellbeing. We may be used to things that surround us every day, but they can unknowingly set us on the road towards good or bad health.

Everything from the buildings around you to the light, nature, and people in your environment can have a huge impact on your overall health whether you live on the coast of Oregon or the bustling city of New York. With that in mind, making even small changes to your environment can set you up for a lifetime of improved health. Here are five changes that can help make that happen:

Make it Green

Vegetation plays a huge role in our overall happiness and health. Living near a green space can encourage people to walk and exercise, but even just having a plant on your desk or in your home can do wonders to increase overall health. Plants and bright light are simple changes that can greatly improve your mental state and improve depression and anxiety, which creates a strong foundation for improved physical health.

Be Playful

We all know the things we need to do to be healthier, but actually doing them is a different story. Studies have found that people are much more likely to be active if it is fun—and it makes people happier, too. The piano stairs project in Stockholm converts metro stairs into giant piano keyboards that encourages commuters to take the stairs for a chance to play a song with their feet as they get active. Adding incentives to our environment like games and toys, including exercise toys and fun ways to get moving, can make it easier to be active.

Make it Visible

We’re more likely to be healthy if we surround ourselves with healthy things. Having a treadmill at home can be a great incentive to run more, but only if you actually see it. If the treadmill is stuck in a corner of the basement you never visit, it will soon go unnoticed. Put healthy food in the front of your fridge and cupboard, set your running shoes out by the door, or set your phone background to a picture of a beautiful hiking trail.

Socialize

People in a solitary environment are much less likely to make healthy choices because they are by themselves and not held accountable. The opposite is also true—if you surround yourself with people who are active and making good choices, you are much more likely to do so. Even just getting out to talk to a friend or neighbor can be a huge emotional boost that improves your health. For the best results, incorporate friends and family into your environment as much as possible. Find a group to play sports or go hiking together, share healthy recipes with a close friend, or find someone to garden with. Interacting with other people does wonders for our moods and our bodies. Consider the examples of how zoos are designed—the placement of the animals is carefully considered so that each species has neighbors it can socialize with to optimize the living conditions and make everyone happier and healthier.

Keep it Clean

Messy spaces make it more likely that people will fall into bad habits and lethargy, while clean spaces are more likely to improve your motivation to act. If you come home to a messy hallway full of shoes and other items, you’ll be more likely to just drop your things anywhere, but if the area is neat and organized, you’ll be more likely to put things away. A clean space does wonders for your mental health and can help create order in your emotional state, which greatly improves your chronological age vs biological age.

Our environment has a huge effect on our mental and physical health. Even small changes can clear your mind and motivate positive change to greater overall health. Taking steps now can improve health in the long run and increase longevity and positivity.

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