Walkability Needs Nature

The healthiest neighborhoods are both walkable and green, according to a growing body of evidence.

2 minute read

April 3, 2018, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Trees and People

WDG Photo / Shutterstock

Kaid Benfield puts out a call to action better connect place to health. According to Benfield, the formula for success in bringing better health outcomes to communities is simple: nature and walkability.

According to Benfield, "there is compelling new research, from a variety of medical and other scientific sources, about what makes a neighborhood healthy." While walkability has long been an urban design feature sought by urban designers and other advocates for smart growth, another piece is necessary to deliver the most health benefits.  "To be truly healthy, especially in cities, we also need nature in our communities," explains Benfield.

The article sets context with past research public health outcomes connected to the environment, like obesity and asthma. There are a few potentially surprising environmental conditions with a direct connection to public health outcomes, like noise pollution. One of the new studies shared by Benfield offers a "meta-analysis of urban and rural differences in mental health, finding "the incidence of mood disorders (mostly depression) was 39 percent higher and the incidence of anxiety disorders was 21 percent higher in cities than in rural areas."

Belfield doesn't present this information to present urban living in a negative light. Rather, he writes, "city environments can also be very supportive of health if we get the neighborhoods right." The article goes on to share studies that delve into the characteristics of walkability and urban nature than can deliver the most benefit top public health outcomes. There's a ton of research and information here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 in PlaceMakers

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