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Urban Planning: a healthy city

 
More than three quarters of Europeans live in cities.
 
The city is a living environment and home for more and more people in the world. According to the United Nations’ report "World Urbanization Prospects," even in Europe the percentage of inhabitants living in cities will continue to rise. In 2030, the percentage of the population living in urban areas is expected to reach 80 per cent, although there are shrinking cities in distinct regions.
 
Conditions for healthy housing are not only determined by the individual dwelling itself. The whole built environment, meaning the location of the dwelling, the city district and the neighbourhood, impacts health. If places where people live, work, recreate and shop are not far from each other and medical care is within reach, quality of life and well-being is positively affected. Still, urban planning does not take into account health considerations as priority.
 
An association for public health called "Verein für öffentliche Gesundheitspflege",founded as early as 1873, has dedicated itself to the health impact of different housing styles. Scientists promoting Max von Pettenkofer statistically analysed the effects of the housing environment, density and altitude of housing, as well as the position of the dwelling compared to road and yard. The dark and damp basement flats and over-crowded, multi-storey blocks turned out to be a risk for health. In contrast, residents living in buildings with daylight and sufficient air supply were healthier. As a result ,principles for urban planning were developed: Healthy houses providing sufficient ventilation and sunlight are obtained by ample architecture avoiding lots of storeys.
 
These days, it is known that adequate light, space and fresh air inhibit the  spread of infectious diseases. Living in airy, not too densely built-up residential areas with lots of green space positively affect the psychical well-being. Green belts and public places where people can meet safely stimulate neighborhood relationships and are essential for a life-style with regular physical activity. Regular exercises prevent chronic heart diseases, therefore it is necessary to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and promote environments that encourage people to participate in sports.