"Healthy Cities: Healthy Women"
Last week I was privileged to attend the "Healthy Cities: Healthy Women" conference, sponsored by U Penn and the School of Nursing. The theme of the conference was empowering women to change the world. Since women are at the center of families and communities, they are the connectors to healthcare, to schools and to other vital aspects of urban infrastructure.
A variety of experts offered a multi-disciplinary approach for addressing challenges to women's health issues in an urban environment. One of my favorite speakers was the leading architect Margaret Castillo who talked about "fit cities" and buildings with an "active design" which can increase physical activity. For example, if you encounter an open staircase when you enter a building, you're more inclined to take the stairs than look for an elevator. Outdoor cafes promote walking. And ramps leading up to park entrances encourage the aging population to keep walking, especially if there are benches along side them to permit a rest stop.
I personally relate to the sense of empowerment that comes from physical activity, especially from a strength training program. Being strong builds confidence and self-esteem. It means that you can be more independent and self-reliant, more resilient to illness and injury. It makes it easier to get through the day with energy and have a reserve to meet unexpected demands. It's one thing that we all can do to improve our quality of life.