Old suburbs score
The way our neighbourhoods are designed has a direct impact on our health, AUT's professor of public health Grant Schofield says.
Dr Schofield says new residential developments, such as those in Albany, are too focused on serving cars rather than pedestrians and are discouraging people from leading active lifestyles.
"Suburbs like Takapuna, Devonport and Milford that were there before cars function a lot better and are much more pedestrian friendly. You see the residents getting outside walking, jogging and playing in parks a lot more.
"Whereas in Albany, although those neighbourhoods were specifically planned and designed, the sense of community stops at your garage. They are more focused on serving traffic rather than people."
Dr Schofield is director of the leading health research hub, the Human Potential Centre - formerly the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition - who has just relocated to AUT Millennium.
The move comes in a quest to better engage with the community and has seen the centre become part of the $43 million redevelopment of the Millennium Institute in Mairangi Bay.
The research group based at the centre will specialise in assessment, prevention and treatment of lifestyle related diseases.
Dr Schofield says the centre will lead the way in promoting positive health messages as opposed to focusing on the negatives.
"We are sick and tired of telling people they're fat and useless. We want to move away from simply solving sickness to achieving health."
He says research will centre around several lifestyle elements that are key to getting people to lead more active lives. These include workplace design, urban planning, children and youth and primary health. The research will then translate into teaching, community programmes and policy.
The team at the centre has proven it practises what it preaches, using "un-ergonomic" standing desks in a shift to a more mobile workplace. This comes as research on sedentary workplaces and the negative impact on employees' wellbeing comes to light.
Despite being based at AUT Millennium, a place renowned for catering to New Zealand's elite athletes, the Human Potential Centre is aimed at serving the "average joe", Dr Schofield says.
The centre's launch on October 3 coincided with the launch of Buck Shelford's book Buck Up - The real bloke's guide to getting healthy and living longer, co-written by Dr Schofield.
"Buck's book is a good way to get these messages out there. Using his story, his battle with cancer and his weight."
Go to humanpotential centre.aut.ac.nz for more.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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