This spring, Urban Land Institute released the Building Healthy Places Toolkit, exploring 21 evidence-based recommendations for improving public health through land use practices. This series highlights the Building Healthy Places recommendations, examining our current properties and practices, and identifying ways that we can push ourselves to create more healthy communities.
Building Healthy Places Recommendation #20 Facilitate Social Engagement
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT is an important factor in creating safe, happy, and healthy places. Bringing people together in social settings can improve mental and physical health. Health benefits from social interaction include reduced risks for health issues such as depression, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems. Positive social interactions can be facilitated by the physical environment—for example, through well-designed public parks and plazas, community rooms, and rooftop spaces. Programs and events are good strategies for strengthening community identity, increasing social interaction, and supporting a variety of goals related to health and well-being. Focusing on intergenerational interactions can also support well-being. —Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment, Urban Land Institute, 2015