What is a Healthy Community?


Credit: Picture BC

The health of a community overall has always had a big influence on the health of the people who live there. For example, we now know that our postal code has as much influence on our health and well-being as our genetic code1. In other words, where we live, work, learn and play has a significant impact on how long and well we live.

A healthy community is one in which multiple sectors collaborate to improve the conditions that influence our health and well-being.

What is meant by ‘health and well-being’?

The World Health Organization describes health as, “… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Well-being refers to the presence of the highest possible quality of life including good living standards, robust health, a sustainable environment, vital communities, an educated populace, balanced time use, high levels of democratic participation, and access to and participation in leisure and culture.

World Health Organization. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946

PlanH addresses three critical and interconnected themes that are required for a healthy community

Healthy People

Local conditions support healthy behaviours and choices where people live, work, learn, and play.


Healthy Society

Vibrant places and spaces cultivate belonging, inclusion, connectedness and engagement.


Healthy Environments

Well-planned built environments and sustainable natural environments support all citizens to thrive, now and in the future.


―A healthy city is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential.
(Hancock and Duhl, 19862)