How Your Environment Affects Your Health

Healthier people make healthier choices for themselves. As you start taking baby steps toward health, a healthy momentum builds and more and more health will come to you. Health creates health. It brings more of it to you and more health is attracted to you. So by making changes in your internal physical environment, giving your health the thoughts it needs, the movement it needs, the foods it needs and the energy it needs, you will be creating health from within.

But your physical environment is not just your internal environment. Your external environment plays a huge role in your health as well.

Think of the home you live in: is it a clean, organized, beautiful living space that you love living in? Or is it dusty and dirty, which may be detracting from your health? Is it cluttered and disorganized so it causes you stress just moving around in it or trying to find something you might have misplaced?

Think about your workplace: is your desk setup or your office space ergonomically correct so it doesn’t place a continual strain on your body? I remember a patient I worked with years ago that came in to see me for help with the daily headaches she had been suffering with for months. After getting adjusted for a few weeks, the headaches were about 80% gone. But there didn’t seem to be any clinical reason why the last 20% of the headache pain should have hung around It was only after asking further questions about some other areas of her life did we discover the answer. She told me that at work, the only place her monitor would fit on her desk was off to the side of the keyboard which forced her to keep her head rotated 45 degrees all day long while she worked on her computer! Obviously this was putting strain on her neck, so she changed the position of her monitor and a week later all of her headache pain was gone.

So consider if your work area is up for your body to do your job properly, so that it doesn’t strain your body or drain your energy. Does your chair support your spine well especially if you are sitting for most of the day? If you stand for most of the day, do you wear good shoes that support your legs and do you take frequent breaks to move around and take the load off your feet? Is there adequate lighting while you are working so your eyes don’t have to strain?

Consider other areas of your physical environment as well:

Are the clothes you wear stylish and up to date? Do they fit you properly and are they comfortable? If you have ever been underdressed at a party or had an itchy tag in your shirt, then you know how stressful clothing can be.

Is your car in good condition so you don’t have to worry about it breaking down on the way to an important meeting at work or if you have all the kids in the car with you?

All of these things and more make up your external physical environment and each one of these is either contributing to your health and well-being or taking away from it. Remember how Health Principle #2 works in your life – everything counts.

What is one thing you could do today to improve your external physical environment, to make it healthier for you?

Your physical environment also includes your geography: where you live in the country or the world. Is the city you live in a healthy place? Does the climate match what you most enjoy and does allow you do the activities you most enjoy doing?

Take me for example, I choose to live in San Diego. It is a perfect place for me to live because I love the beach, I love surfing, I love volleyball, I love cycling, and I love warm, sunny weather to do it in. I am not a cold weather guy at all. I am think I am solar powered because warm, sunny days give me tons of energy and make me really, really happy. I learned this when I lived in San Francisco while going school. I loved the people, the food and the energy of the Bay Area. But it was just too cold for me. I didn’t enjoy the long cold, wet damp winters there. Now, I have friends who live in Minnesota and the East Coast that when they hear me say San Francisco was too cold for me, they laugh at me and say that I don’t know cold if I am saying the Bay Area was too cold for me. And I say fine. I don’t want to know their type of cold if it is worse than what I experienced there.

After I graduated, I received an offer to help run a clinic in Costa Rica so I left San Francisco and moved there for a year. Sure, it was an incredible opportunity, but I also wanted to go there to thaw out! Now I live in San Diego and I am very happy here.

But that is me and my likes. That is what is a good healthy environment for me. You might not care for hot weather and that is fine. A cooler, crisper climate will be healthier for you then. Thankfully there are millions of places to live that can suit your own individual needs and likes. It is important to at least ask yourself whether or not the place where you are currently living is the healthiest place for you.

If the arts and attending cultural events is important to you, is the area you live in metropolitan enough to feed this side of you? Chances are Cirque du Soleil isn’t going to make it to your town on their next tour if you live in the middle of B.F.E.

If getting out into nature regularly is important to you to help balance out the concrete jungle living and the cubicle existence you are in, do you have places to do that? Do you have a beach to walk on if you like the sand and waves? Do you have trails to hike on if you like the forest? Do you have a peaceful spot to take in a sunset? Do you have a place where you can sit and take in a beautiful view below you?

All of these are healthy places that can help shift your attention from the mundane, day-to-day to a bigger, more cosmic perspective and they all come from your external physical environment.

*Exerpted from the Being Well Lifestyles Home Study Course by Dr. Jay Warren.

Drawing on over two decades of experience as a hands-on holistic practitioner, Dr. Jay Warren is a primary healthcare provider and licensed chiropractor in the San Diego area. He has spent tens of thousands of clinical hours helping his patients achieve their optimal health potential through holistic approaches bolstered by years of personal experimentation, education and research. Dr. Jay creates customized plans integrating exercise, nutrition and stress management strategies to overcome a myriad of health challenges. For more information, email or visit

About the Author

Dr. Jay Warren has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 17 years. He is also the Wellness Care Coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, CA where 90% of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under one year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association or Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) and the host of the podcast “Healthy Births, Happy Babies” in iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth and easier post-partum experience. Dr. Jay is also the proud father of his 3 year old son, Niko who keeps him very busy (and happy) outside of the office.