Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jul 30th 2008 at 3:42pm UTC

Walkability Benefits

A University of Utah study finds that walkable neighborhoods are good for your health (h/t: Jason Rentfrow).

“The study, to be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, linked the body mass index (BMI) of nearly a half million Salt Lake County residents to 2000 Census data. The study found 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 … The study found that neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to offer greater overall walkability as they more often were designed with the pedestrian in mind, while newer neighborhoods often were designed to facilitate car travel … Using height and weight data collected by the Driver License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety, Smith and colleagues calculated the BMI of 453,927 Salt Lake County residents age 25 to 64, linking it to census-block groups via geographical coordinates.”

5 Responses to “Walkability Benefits”

  1. jgo Says:

    So, places where people and their houses are crammed together like sardines are “comfortable”!? Give me a break. I’d much rather have a couple hundred acres including a small lake and lots of trees. Now, that’s a walkable environment.

  2. L Says:

    Well being isolated on a couple hundred acres including a small lake and lots of trees is neither social, functional, or realistic in many places around the globe.

  3. Eric Says:

    There’s a good deal of research on this subject. One problem faced by many researchers, and it doesn’t appear to be addressed in the abstract, is whether the populations are self-selecting. It may simply be that active people seek out neighborhoods that are walkable while more sedentary people prioritize other criteria when choosing where to live.

  4. Matt Says:

    BMI is a lousy measure of overall health and activity levels. The problem that Eric states has been brought up in other studies but never addressed…neither do the Utah guys. People who want to be healthy will do so regardless of weather their community is “walkable” or not. BTW, what’s the definition of “walkable”? Oh yeah, it changes with each study.

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