Walkable neighborhoods result in healthier residents

Vancouver

According to research by Salman Klar of the Fraser Health Authority, Metro Vancouver residents living in the region’s most walkable neighborhoods are about a third less likely to be overweight or obese than those living in the region’s more car-dependent areas.

This was just one recent study – the connection between walkable neighborhoods and healthy people living there has been confirmed before.

In the September 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers proved that “residents were at less risk of being obese or overweight if they lived in walkable neighborhoods-those that are more densely populated, designed to be more friendly to pedestrians and have a range of destinations for pedestrians” in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The study also found that the neighborhoods with the best fitness results tended to be built before 1950, meaning lots of design features such as shaded sidewalks, convenient small shots, and other attractive destinations.

So what makes a neighborhood “walkable?” According to Walk Score, here are many of the features:

A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it’s a main street or a public space.

People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.

Mixed income, mixed use: Affordable housing located near businesses.

Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.

Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street, parking lots are relegated to the back.

Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

Do you live in a walkable neighborhood? Let us know on Twitter at @creatopspray.