If you're looking for a city that offers a healthy lifestyle, Toronto is a fantastic option. Boasting the largest population in Canada, it offers an impressive blend of career and business opportunities, safety, diversity, arts and culture, and healthy living.
Whether you're looking to relocate yourself or your family or to invest in a piece of real estate, Toronto is a bustling city that will continue to grow in terms of its economy and quality of life. It is a safe bet whether you're moving from within Canada or from overseas for many reasons and we've decided to explain a few of those.
1. Healthy Restaurants
Let's start with the most important thing - food. There is no shortage of healthy restaurants to be appreciated in Toronto. Ever since organic and vegetarian cuisine has been growing in popularity, Toronto's restaurant scene has responded accordingly in its offerings. Regardless of where you live in Toronto, rest assured, there will be healthy restaurants nearby.
If you live on College Street, for example, you can enjoy the nearby Grasshopper Restaurant, known for its meat-free menu (hence the clever restaurant name). Its exposed brick and wooden furniture decor provide a hip ambiance for those dedicated vegetarians as well as those non-vegetarians looking to explore new cuisine options. They have a second location in the Junction.
If you live closer to Kensington Market, Hibiscus Café is a comforting vegan restaurant serving delightful soups. If you up for a a carb-rich meal, you can order a delicious savoury crepe stuffed with ingredients including but not limited to chocolate and brie cheese.
These are just two options, but rest assured, there are healthy dining options at each corner in Toronto.
2. Cycling Lanes
If you enjoy cycling, Toronto is an ideal destination for you. The city's network of bicycle lanes offers comprehensive coverage of the downtown core. These lanes are separated from primary car traffic, making it safer and quicker to get around on bicycle than other major cities.
Not to mention that you don't even have to own your own bike to cycle. Bike sharing in Toronto is very well developed and there are stations all around the city. Bike Share just added 120 new stations and a 1,000 new bikes, making it possible for more people to enjoy cycling without the burden of owning and maintaining their own bikes.
New kid on the block, Dropbike, is similar to Car2Go because it allows you to locate one of their available orange bikes using your smartphone. It will first become available around the U of T and Ryerson University and their website advertises rides starting at $1 per hour. As for Bike Share, you can choose between a membership at $90 per year, with the following usage fees:
- 0-30 minutes = no charge
- 31-60 = $1.50
- 61=90 = $4
- Every additional half-hour = $7
or you can opt for a short term membership, starting at $7 for a 24 hour pass and $15 for a 72 hour pass.
There are a number of cycling trails around the city. If you're in the West End, make sure to check out Etobicoke's West Bike Trail or Humber Valley Trail. For Eastenders and Downtowners, there's the beautiful Tommy Thompson Park Trail, with no cars to ruin your cycling trip and the well known Waterfront Trail, perfect for a family cycling trip.
3. Proximity to Green Spaces & Water
According to EcoHealth Ontario, 92 per cent of studies resulted in a statistically significant relationship between mental health and proximity to nature within a city. It was also discovered that green spaces have a positive effect on physical health, presumably due to the resulting opportunities for physical activities and relaxation. Fortunately for us, Toronto is unique in its rich mix of green space and water within its urban design. Its downtown core also features a beautiful harbour.
You can spend a whole day cruising across the Toronto harbour and visiting the Toronto Islands. Central Island is a quaint getaway from the downtown bustle and offers a romantic day trip for any couples looking to ride a bike throughout this gorgeous island.
If you're looking for a park to visit in Toronto, Trinity Bellwoods is a local favourite. Its central location makes it a perfect destination for picnics with friends or family. But we also have to mention The Don River Valley Park and of course Toronto's biggest park - High Park.
Further away from the downtown core, there's the gorgeous Scarborough Bluffs Park featuring a 15-km stretch of scenic lookout spots along Lake Ontario.
In the summer, you can go for a swim near Toronto by visiting one of its many nearby water locations. Elora Quarry is located about one hour away from downtown Toronto and features incredible landscapes as well as a beach area for sunbathing. St. Mary's Quarry is deemed the biggest freshwater swimming location in the country and offers a floating dock for the purposes of jumping into the water.
4. Air Quality
Compared to other major international cities, Toronto has good air quality. According to the World Health Organization, Canada's average pollutant air particle size is 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This is low compared to China, for example, with pollutant particulates of 55 micrograms per cubic meter of air or Delhi, India with particulates of 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
Toronto outperformed the national average with a relatively impressive average particulate size of 7.9 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The air feels clean in Toronto and the data supports this anecdotal observation.
5. Healthy Grocery Stores
If you value a selection of organic grocery stores in your city, Toronto is an excellent option for you. You can buy locally-sourced fruits and vegetables and organic meat products in various outlets throughout the city.
According to blogTO, Torontonians rank Big Carrot, located on the Danforth, as one of the city's best healthy grocery stores. It stocks a huge variety of organic grocery items and sells prepared organic food items as well. If you live near Leslieville, Raise the Root is a popular destination for organic groceries. For those living in the Junction, The Sweet Potato is a good option. Overall, Toronto boasts a wonderful assortment of organic grocery stores and farmers' markets allowing you to cook healthily for you and your family.
Check out our list of the top 10 local food stores in the city.
6. Public Sports Programs
Toronto has an attractive offering of athletic programs available to the public.
If you enjoy kayaking, there are kayak rentals available at Woodbine Beach for as cheap as $25 per day. If you want to try rock climbing with friends, you can book an introductory course at the oldest rock climbing school in Ontario, located near Milton. Otherwise, if you're interested in joining an intramural sports team, the City of Toronto offers many opportunities to get involved in local athletics.
Toronto is an excellent city for golfers. There are local golfing options for all budget levels. Don Valley is an excellent golfing destination for those on a tight budget. It's within walking distance from York Mills subway station and green fees range from $58 - $70. While round times can be slow at this course due to its proximity to the city and inexpensive entry, this location provides excellent value and well-designed golf courses.
If you're looking to splurge on a premium golfing experience, you can visit Copper Creek. This golf course is considered one of the best in Canada. It's located near Toronto in a town called Kleinburg and green fees range from $125 - $190 CAD.
Interested in making the best of Canada's snowy weather and planning a ski trip? Toronto has plenty of nearby ski hills! Blue Mountain is a popular local skiing destination due to its beautiful natural landscapes and proximity to the city. It offers day and night skiing on its 40+ trails. Full day passes start at $70 CAD. Mount St. Louis Moonstone is another nearby skiing option. It's about an hour away from Toronto and features 35 trails. Charging about $56 for a day pass, this hill is ideal if you're looking for an affordable day trip destination.
7. Arts and Culture
For many people, having access to local arts and culture is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Toronto has an incredible arts and culture scene for anyone with such desires. Notable film festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival occur on a yearly basis.
New York has Broadway and Toronto has its Entertainment District. Dynamic theatre performances are given consistently if you like musicals or just about any other genre of theatre. Mirvish Productions is a must for musical lovers, while Soulpepper in the Distillery District or the Second City will impress comedy fans. And let's not forget Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the world's largest queer theatre, featuring art, dance, drama and music.
Many famous and local musical artists perform on a weekly basis if you enjoy live music. Just recently Drake's OVO festival went down at the Molson Amp featuring a huge replica of the CN Tower.
Museums and Galleries
Toronto's museums and art galleries provide an insight into the local and international history and artistry. Famous for not just its looks, the centrally located Royal Ontario Museum offers fun for all age groups. The AGO, a well-known institution, gained some new popularity among the younger crowd recently when they started with their monthly First Thursday parties. Not to be missed are also The Hockey Hall of Fame and the Aga Khan Museum.
8. Free Healthcare
It goes without saying that it's difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle if you're unable to access healthcare services.
Thanks to Canada's universal healthcare environment, Toronto promises accessible healthcare to anyone in need of regular health-related services, regardless of your income level, age or race.
Furthermore, the Canadian government regularly invests in public education campaigns in an attempt to reduce the risk of injuries and health issues for its citizens.
9. Toronto's Smoke-Free Laws
As an extension to the previous point, Toronto guarantees a healthy environment with its strictly regulated smoke-free governmental policies.
There is a no-tolerance legislation with regards to smoking inside public facilities. Moreover, every retail site is required by law to display a no smoking sign on its doors at all times.
Government officers are frequently deployed into stores that sell age-restricted products such as tobacco to test for compliance. These officers investigate merchants' records and behaviours for proper IDing procedures, training documents, and other such operational factors that ensure the integrity of the provincial legislation.
10. Occupational Health and Safety Policies
If you intend on moving to Toronto for employment purposes, you can be confident that your health will be treated as a priority by your employer. The Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates employers to protect your health.
This comprehensive act protects your right to refuse to carry out work where your health or safety is in danger. Unlike other major international cities with more lax occupational health policies, Toronto's robust program places your right to a healthy lifestyle at the forefront.
Toronto is a great place to live if you're striving for a healthy lifestyle. With its world-class health-related policies, cultural and culinary offerings, and fitness-oriented design, it offers an impressive environment for anyone.
Read more about why you should consider moving to Toronto.