Breathe a little easier: American Lung Association study backs smart growth

Like many Americans, I grew up knowing only one type of community design — drivable suburbia. In my community, exercise wasn’t something that happened naturally over the course of the day. It required carving out designated time slots from a crowded schedule.

Frankly, that didn’t happen as often as it should.

Since that time, I’ve learned that cultivating a more active lifestyle doesn’t have to mean finding a 25th hour in the day. Moving to a walkable, mixed-use, smart growth community quite literally changed my life — with, as it turns out, more significant health benefits than I’d initially realized.

For example, in a new study, the American Lung Association in California has thrown its support behind that state’s plans for more smart growth communities because of the striking positive health implications.

“If doctors and other health experts designed our cities, they would look quite different than the sprawling communities we see today,” said Sonal R. Patel, M.D., American Lung Association in California Board Member and Director of White Memorial Pediatric Medical Groups Division of Allergy and Immunology in Los Angeles.

“Cities would provide more healthy choices, more opportunities for walking and biking, better access to transit, less congestion, more housing close to workplaces and more parks for kids and families to enjoy.”