Cities are becoming less physically challenging, making residents weak, fragile and dependant on technologies.  We aim to bring medical knowledge into urban design.

For the attention of: Urban designers, architect planners, and scientists of the human body and movement

The problem: A wide variety of movement types has been eliminated from urban environment which is designed for lowest agility and ability of movement, even where there is enough space to provide other options. Lack of opportunities, or nudges, to greater exercise may in part lead to, among other problems, bone fragility and osteoporosis across the population.

What we did and why: We studied the evidence to better understand the effect of exercise programs on bone density. Then we designed experiments based on that knowledge. We discovered that jumping from walls and podiums creates three times bodyweight load on legs, this in turn can make bones stronger and postpone osteoporosis

What our study adds: This study adds a new criteria to consider when designing urban landscapes. Opportunities to jump and step down apply the strain on bones necessary for gaining and maintaining bone density and avoiding osteoporosis, these can be created alongside less intense and more accessible routes.

Implications for city policy and practice: We suggest that there is a need to reconsider the balance between risk of falling now or having bone health deterioration over many years – and provide choice. Designers can creatively use this new license for design incident for the hyper-active. This can be applied through removing barriers around podiums, creating adventurous landscapes in park and boulevards, without affecting accessibility.

Full research article: Active urbanism: The potential effect of urban design on bone health

Authors: Anna Boldina (@AnnaBoldina1), Beatriz Gomes & Koen Steemers (@KoenSteemers)

Editor: Marcus Grant (@MarcusxGrant)