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Environmental health expert discusses healthy city planning

Regular exercise adds about eight years to a person's life — more even than quitting smoking does. That's why a community should design an environment in which people want to walk and bike rather than drive.

That's the message Dr. Richard Jackson, the host of the Public Broadcasting Service series "Designing Healthy Communities," gave Wednesday to about 80 people who crowded into a room at the Douglas County Library to hear him speak.

Afterward, Jackson, the chairman of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, toured the city with about a dozen residents. He recommended improvements along Washington Avenue and gave the city high marks for its bicycle trail along the South Umpqua River.

"I think it's a treasure. I think this should be the diamond which you should build a filigree necklace around," he said.

A former director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, Jackson has written two books, "Urban Sprawl and Public Heath" and "Making Healthy Places," on the connection between community planning and well being.

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