If he could, Matt would even drive to his fridge to get his next [well known soft drink].

Jenny is single and wants to stay like that. She doesn’t like to see many people anyways.

Christine lives almost in a production plant. Josef lives in a big city and doesn’t know why he is mentally ill.

And then, there is depressed Max who commutes almost an hour to work every day and sometimes has phantasies of crashing into this nice big Oaktree right next to the road.

What do all the above have in common, you might wonder. It’s one secret cause that is responsible for a lot of today’s health issues.

It’s the very often unhealthy built environment, which can affect your health and also your wallet.

It consists of about 4 elements. Today’s article is going to deal with them.

1) Lack of Physical Activity and Overweight problems, amongst others

Take a guess of how much the lack of physical activity (25% of adults and 80% of adolescents) costs in health expenditures and productivity each year?

It’s $260 billion.
What is interesting is that 38% of Americans say they lack outdoor spaces in their community to exercise or walk.

This health situation is also confirmed in this and this scientific articles.

The first one finds that physical inactivity is detrimental to health and to the normal organ functional capacities.

It also analyzes physical activity as the primary prevention method against 35 chronic conditions.

Some, but not all the chronic conditions mentioned in the article include:

  • Accelerated biological aging and premature death
  • Low cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Sarcopenia
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Prediabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone fracture/falls
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain
  • Gallbladder disease

So, the body gets used to the insufficient physical activity.

This leads to large decreases in both the total number of years and the quality of life.

There is enough evidence that the physical inactivity is an important cause of most of the chronic diseases.

The article also confirms that physical activity prevents or delays chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases are something you can avoid in life.

2) Negative Effects of a Single Household

Did you know that 25-40% of households are single households in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea?

Furthermore, 25% of Americans have no close friends to confide in.

No wonder that depression increased by 18% worldwide between 2000 and 2015.


Higher risk in surgeries

Having a surgery done on you always involves some risks, no matter if you are single or in a relationship.

An Emory University study from 2012 reached the conclusion that singles were three times more likely to die three months after a heart surgery and 71% more likely to die over the next five years than study participants that were in a relationship or married.

When you are in a relationship or married, you tend to be more optimistic about the recovery.


Higher Heart Health Risks

Being single, you are 5% more likely to develop a heart disease than married couples.

This result came from a 2014 study on more than 3.5 million people and was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

Still, further studies have to be done since other findings contradict the above study.

For example, a 2006 study from the University of Texas (Austin) couldn’t find a significant difference in cardiovascular disease risks after analyzing 9000 married people.

6 Challenges Single Moms Have to Face

  • Sleep deprivation, because their productive time is when their kids are asleep.
  • Too busy with their children to take time for their self-care.
  • Financial insecurity, due to past divorces.
  • The mental health can be affected due to ongoing conflicts with an ex.
  • Weak support networks, due to dissociated friends.
  • Stigma and judgment because of the stereotypes of single motherhood.

Mental Health Issues in Children

BMC Psychology published a study in 2016 which investigated the effects of the size of households on mental health problems in children.

They used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) which included 114 500 children.

Mothers were followed from pregnancy until the infants grew older and had to participate in questionnaires on a regular basis.

What can be said about the results?

The study found that a large household is associated with fewer mental problems in children.

So we can conclude that a smaller household like a single-parent household is likely to increase the possibility of children having more mental problems.


Wait, there are also 4 Positive effects of being single

Not everything is bad about having a single household or being single.

Let’s check out the positives:

You are less likely to gain weight

In 2013, a study was published in the Journal “Health Psychology”.

It showed that happily married couples gain weight in the first four years after their wedding.

It is kind of common sense, but according to the researchers, it is because there is no more pressure to attract a new mate and therefore the couple gets lazy and complacent about their appearance.

You exercise on a regular basis

This study carried out by the University of Maryland came to the conclusion that unmarried adults exercise more than the married ones, including those without kids.

This same situation was confirmed by a British survey mentioned in The Telegraph in 2011.

More close friends

A study from the University of Massachusetts from 2006 found that as a single you are better at maintaining relationships with friends, neighbors and extended family than married people (with and without kids).

Less stress about money and chores

According to another study done by the University of Michigan in 2005, singles stress less than those in relationships about money and chores.

A survey from 2014 carried out with more than 2000 adults in relationships confirms these findings.

One in three participants in the study admitted lying to a partner about money issues.

Also, credit card debt is more likely to happen.

3) Environmental Diseases

Did you know that according to the WHO a hazardous environment causes 24% of global disease and 13 million deaths every year and that air pollution kills 2.2 million in China and India every year?

What is an environmental disease?

According to Wikipedia, an environmental disease is caused by environmental factors in those who are genetically predisposed to a particular condition.

Possible causes:

  • Stress
  • Physical and mental abuse
  • Diet
  • Exposure to toxins, pathogens, radiation, and chemicals found in almost all personal care products and household cleaners

So, it is a combination of a genetical predisposition and the environmental factors.


Overview of Environmental Health Hazards

This article from 1990 gives a good overview of the environmental health hazards.

They can be classified them as chemical, physical, mechanical or psychosocial hazards.

Many of the carriers on the chemical or physical side are the air, water, and soil.

Air:                                                                                                According to the article, over 50 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas where the outdoor air does not meet the EPA standards for contaminants.

Since the article is from 1990, this data might have improved, but I doubt that it has changed very much to the positive.

Water & Soil:
Then, we have the water as another carrier.

Twenty-five percent of the community water systems provide drinking water that does not meet the EPA safety standards for biological and chemical contaminants, according to the above article.

The water can be contaminated by point-source pollutants (e.g. Superfund sites) or non-point sources (e.g. runoff of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides).

If you’d like to dig a bit deeper into the hazardous substances, I can refer you to this article of the Massy University of New Zealand.

Urban Pollution:
Urban Pollution is not something separate from the health hazards mentioned above because it includes all of them.

But there are some conditions which are more typical to urban than to rural areas, which deserve a separate section.

So, of course, we have the air, water, and soil pollution. But in urban areas, you can also find higher levels of noise and visual pollution.

Noise Pollution:
Noisy conditions very often get ignored as a possible negative effect on your health.

But if you have really lived in a larger city for a longer time, you might know what I mean.

Many are unaware of these negative effects and put them aside as “well, that’s normal, it’s just a bit noisy here, in the city”.

But over time people will suffer from disruption of peace, headaches, insomnia, hearing loss, and a decrease in quality of living.

Visual Pollution:
In urban areas, you can find many more people who have a good face for the radio (just kidding, this is not the visual pollution I am referring to 😉 ).

Visual pollution refers to the high number of signs, advertisements, and illuminated billboard lights that you can find in urban areas.

This kind of negative effect on you can’t be measured easily, but can also lead to a decreased quality of life.

4) Commuting affects you also

The fourth element of an unhealthy built environment is what many do day-in and day-out. They commute to work.

A private British study from Vitality Health found some interesting facts about commuting and how it can negatively affect you.

For the study, more than 34 000 employees across all UK industries were investigated.

The following findings give you the bigger picture.

Commutes of less than half an hour a day:

  • A commute of less than half an hour a day gains you an extra seven days worth of productive time each year.

Commutes of 60 minutes and more per day:

  • It is more likely that you suffer from depression.
  • Employees are 40 percent more likely to worry about finances and 12 percent are more likely to suffer from work-related stress.
  • It is more likely that you get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Employees are 21 percent more likely to be obese.

An article from Psychology Today also states the situation in the U.S.

“The average American spends 25.4 minutes commuting”. This doesn’t sound too bad.

The article complements the above with the fact that commuting can lead to a sense of loss of control, boredom, social isolation, anger, and frustration.

This study found that commuting was less than popular.

It is even less popular than daily activities like housework and actual work.

There also seems to be a connection with the increased blood pressure, musculoskeletal problems, lower frustration tolerance, and higher levels of hostility and anxiety.

So, how can the wrong built environment also affect your wallet?

You might have figured by now that the above points are all things that affect your wallet less directly, but more indirectly when thinking about the opportunity costs.

When dealing with opportunity costs you ask yourself the question “What do I miss by making a certain decision?”

What do you miss for example, when being overweight or having to commute every day for 60 minutes or more to work?

And then, of course, there are some direct costs that can occur, when you have to deal with health issues, that are not covered well enough by your insurance.

Or, in the case of environmental diseases, your property might lose value because the neighborhood you have been living in turns out to be polluted in different ways.

Wellness Real Estate can be a solution to the above-mentioned problems.

This new fast-growing market niche not only designs properties with your health in mind but it also more and more offers healthy communities with “active living environments” (walkability, bike-ability, parks etc.).