Neighborhood “Walkability” Confers Health Benefits

If you’re moving anytime soon, take a close look at whether your new neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly. It could affect your health in important ways, according to new findings.

Researchers evaluated walkability based on four factors: population density, number of walkable destinations (stores, services, parks), residential building density, and street connectivity. Researchers studied trends in a variety of neighborhoods and found that in the least walkable areas, rates of obesity and diabetes rose. But in the most walkable neighborhoods, diabetes rates fell over time.

The researchers acknowledged that they didn’t look at factors such as fruit and vegetable consumption among the more than 32,000 people involved with the study, nor were other factors accounted for, such as crime, that might reduce pedestrian activity. But the study echoed previous research that suggests the more pedestrian-friendly environment a person lives and works in, the greater the chances she will walk more and make other healthy lifestyle choices. The study also reaffirms the connection between regular exercise, such as walking, and lower rates of obesity and diabetes.

(May 24, 2016, online, Journal of the American Medical Association.) 

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