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Let’s Talk About Our Physical Environment

July 10, 2018

Our physical environment is comprised of the buildings, transportation (roads, public/private transit, bike lanes and sidewalks), energy systems (hydro, heat/cool & water), open space (parks and recreation) and farm lands that make up and support our communities. Our physical environment is a social determinant of health and plays an important role in our health and well-being. “A healthy built physical environment is an outcome of our local commitment to evidence-informed community planning practices”, states Tanis Brown, Registered Nurse and Health Equity Coordinator.

What makes up a healthy physical environment?

A healthy physical environment considers:

  • Neighbourhood Design – complete, compact and connected communities
  • Housing – design, quality and affordability
  • Food Systems – all steps from seed to waste should ensure the accessibility of safe, nutritious and tasty food
  • Natural Environments – preserves and connects the natural environments
  • Transportation Networks –  safe, affordable, accessible to all levels of mobility, and prioritizes active transportation options like walking, cycling and public transit
  • Community Consultation – the opportunities and capacity for community to speak and act on those issues that concern them

Why is our physical environment important?

The environment that we live in has an impact on our educational options, our jobs and our social support. A healthy built environment can contribute to increasing our physical activity; improving our mental well-being and promoting access to safe and nutritious food. It also contributes to decreasing heart & lung disease and our risk of injuries.

Who in our community is talking about healthy physical environments?

  • Healthy Community Partnership of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville
  • FoodcoreLGL
  • Active School Travel Planning
  • Rural Recreation Association
  • Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Network
  • Youth Friendly Designation

For more information on physical environment, visit our Social Determinants of Health section or call 1-800-660-5853.


Tanis Brown, Public Health Nurse, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit 613-345-5685 or
Susan Healey, Communications Co-ordinator, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit 613-802-0550