For years, the prevailing wisdom has been that living in a city is bad for your health. Why would anyone choose to live in a crowded, noisy urban environment when they could stretch out in the suburbs? Although it’s true that the suburban lifestyle is attractive in many ways, it may not be as good for you as you have been led to believe. A recent study conducted by the University of Oxford and the University of Hong Kong found that obesity rates are lower where the population is denser. In addition, people who live in cities socialize more often than those who live in places with lower density.
Based on these findings, the impact of urban living on overall health should be easy to determine. City dwellers typically walk more because everything they need is close to them. This results in lower obesity rates than in suburban and rural areas where sprawl forces most people to drive everywhere. Plus, being surrounded by others means city people spend more time socializing. That can have significant mental health benefits. Overall, this study concludes, living in urban areas isn’t as harmful to one’s well-being as the consensus seems to believe. There are many reasons why humans have chosen to live so close to one another throughout history. Even though technology has made it possible for us to live farther apart, that distance may be damaging to our health. For more details about how living in a city can mean a healthier lifestyle, see the charts on the accompanying guide.