Does This Neighborhood Make Me Look Fat?

ctsai Blogger

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Besides bedrooms and bathrooms, there’s one more thing home buyers and renters can consider when choosing where to live: Is the neighborhood good for your health?

 

Residents in areas with compact street networks (like gridded cities with lots of intersections and shorter blocks) also tend to have lower rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, according to a study in the Journal of Transport & Health.

 

That holds true even when controlling for factors including age, income, and how many fast food restaurants are nearby, said the study’s lead author Wesley Marshall, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Denver.

 

A separate study published this year found that people living in activity-friendly neighborhoods got up to 89 more minutes per week of exercise than those in neighborhoods that weren’t as conducive to walking, biking, or the use of public transit, which also encourages walking, said the study’s lead author James Sallis, distinguished professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego.

 

That’s important news for city planners and residents themselves since the American Heart Association suggests getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. For those who don’t have easy, affordable access to gyms or even fresh, healthy food, exercise that’s built into the daily routine is especially important, said Olga Gonzalez of LiveWell Colorado, an organization that fights obesity.

 

“When people look to buy a house, they don’t really think, ‘Which house will give me a better chance of being a healthier person,’” Marshall told Transamerica’s New Age of Advice. “It seems like a crazy way to think about it, but it does matter.”

 

Walkable communities

Not all neighborhoods have well-lit, well-kept sidewalks, safe bike paths, or enough destinations where people would want or need to walk, like a grocery store, park, doctor’s office, workplace, or school.

 

Decisions over the years to allow for roads wide enough to move more cars quickly from one point to another may have made it easier to drive places rather than bike or walk, Sallis said.

“The way we design cities is really fueling inactivity and chronic disease,” Sallis said.

It’s unclear whether walkable neighborhoods are solely responsible for lowering rates of chronic disease or whether healthier people are drawn to live in walkable neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods with a high “Walk Score” can command higher prices. An increase of one Walk Score point can boost the price of a home by about 0.9 percent, the real estate brokerage Redfin reported.

 

That suggests a walkable neighborhood could be healthy for your body and your finances.

 

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6 Comments
#cmgr

I love this blog and I have used Walkscore a lot, not just when buying a home but also when I was moving to a new city and wanted to find a great place to rent.  Can't recommend Walkscore enough. 

 

Another great tool to learn about your neighbourhood is Nextdoor.com, you will get immediate insight into your neighbours, the problems and community events etc. And it's free!!!

sharr23

This is so true!  We went from a neighborhood where we never saw or even knew our neighbors to one that everyone knows you by name!  We have walking trails, neighborhood pools, concerts and lots of activities to get us out and about with each other.  We've even been known to drag a firepit out into the street to draw all the neighbors out of their homes on a nice fall evening.    Our family is much more active in this neighborhood and much happier! 

 

#cmgr

A) I want to join your community @sharr23 and enjoy that firepit

B) did you have to move for this change to happen or did your neighbourhood transformed? And if the latter, what happened and how fast?

sharr23

@nvecsei move on in!   We had to move for the change to happen.  When looking for our new home we specifically looked for a very active neighborhood with lots of activities for our daughter. 

#cmgr

How did you look @sharr23? Did you use an app or website or literally just walked around in the neighborhood at a specific time of day to get the vibe?

sharr23

@nvecsei we did all of the above.  We asked for temporary access to the community website so that we could monitor the type of posts, concerns and activites taking place over a couple week period.  Then we also staggered our visits to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night.  After only two visits there were stopped by the neighbors asking us if we needed help, because they had seen our car a couple of times.  That launched into an invite to attend the next neighborhood concert with them as guests, which started other neighbors inviting us to more events.  By the time we moved in we were already spending most of our time there so it was an easy transition!

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