More Reason to Brag About a City’s Walkability

November 8, 2016

Does your listing’s neighborhood offer walkability? If so, you’ll want to tout the latest findings from a study that show residents who live there are bound to be healthier.

In a new study published in the Lancet, researchers analyzed 14 cities in 10 countries to determine whether or not the cities’ layout contributed to an increase in resident’s health. Researchers tracked the physical activity of 14,222 adult participants over a week using Fitbit-style accelerometers.

"We studied neighborhoods ranging in socioeconomic status and culture," says lead author James Sallis of the UC San Diego School of Medicine. "Those built with more activity-supportive environmental features had residents who did more physical activity."

Researchers found the biggest city design factors that led to a greater amount of “moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity” were those with prevalence of residential density, park, and public transport density. After all, people living near parks are more likely to use them. Residential density contributes to greater walkability because the more compact a neighborhood is, the more easily residents can walk to do their errands instead of driving, researchers note. Indeed, residents in densely populated cities tend to get up to 90 minutes more physical activity per week than those who don’t.

Further, researchers showed that public transit density tends to spur more walking among residents too because people often walk to the closest station instead of driving.

"People who live in walkable neighborhoods that are densely populated, have interconnected streets, and are close to shops, services, restaurants, public transport, and parks tend to be more physically active than residents of less walkable areas," according to the study.

Of the cities studied globally, residents in Wellington, New Zealand, were found to walk the most per day at an average of 50 minutes. Meanwhile, the lowest amount of walking time was in Baltimore, Md., at 29 minutes.

Source: “The Well-Designed City Is a Healthy City, All Over the World,” (Oct. 27, 2016)