There has been some interesting research around health and neighbourhoods over the last few years. Of course there is the convenience of living in a walkable community however beyond that, the proximity to parks can greatly affect your health!
If you are considering making a move to a a new community have a look at the map. Is the walking distance to parks accessible? Are there multiple parks or areas providing green space nearby? There are a number of health benefits that studies have linked directly to both walkability and park density. One study has found that, compared to those living in neighbourhoods with no parks, those who live in close proximity to six parks had a 37% lower risk for diabetes and 39% lower risk for hear disease. Much of this physical health research has been done through UBC in their Health and Community Design Lab.
At the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, they have been able to link cognition to those who live in areas of high connectivity, where there is a need to navigate streets, intersections and landmarks, performed better on cognition tests and demonstrated less decline in attention and verbal communication skills. Tremendous research shows that if we keep using our brains they will serve us well and that doesn’t stop at Brain Jogger games, reading and social interactions, but extends outside our doors and into our communities as well.
Of course, walking can offer a wide range of benefits with regards to mental health. Physical activity of any sort helps with mood, sleep quality, stress levels, anxiety and even fatigue. Those who are physically active have a 30% reduced risk of suffering from depression and can aid those with depression in recovery. In older adults, research from the UK has also proven improved cognitive functioning including memory, improves attention and speed at which information can be processed and reduces cognitive decline and dementia!
Get moving! Keep moving! And if you’re moving properties, keep this in mind when choosing the next community you are going to call home!