You may have noticed more ‘walkable’ neighborhoods showing up in your community—those designed to encourage more foot traffic (or the use of public transportation) by creating an area where living space, shops, schools, and other services are in close proximity. Not only are they convenient, but a new study shows they may be good for your heart.
Researchers in Canada analyzed the health data for more than 1,000 Ontario residents using the popular Walk Score® tool to measure the walkability of a number of different neighborhoods. They wanted to find out if moving from an area that was less walkable to one that was highly walkable had any impact on residents’ health, and as it turns out it did.
Within just ten years after relocating, people who moved to more walkable neighborhoods saw a positive effect on their overall heart health. Specifically, their risk of developing high blood pressure was reduced by nearly half—simply by taking more steps and spending less time behind the wheel.
“This is incorporating exercise into your daily life, where it seems like routine,” said study author Maria Chiu with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto. “It’s more sustainable than asking a person to join a gym or take up a sport.”
Additional studies have shown that walking more often has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Further, it may help maintain a healthy body weight, enhance mental health, and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.