Unsurprisingly, People Enjoy Walking More in Safe, Green Spaces

New research shows that people are likely to walk more in places that are both walkable and green.

June 15, 2022, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


High Line park NYC - Manhattan - New York City

The High Line park in New York City combines walkability with greenery. | David Berkowitz / Flickr

A new study from North Carolina State University reveals that people who spend time in walkable, green neighborhoods engage in more physical exercise. As reported by Megan Skrip for NC State University News, “The analysis, led by former NC State postdoctoral scholar Oriol Marquet, used wearable sensors and satellite data to link people’s activity levels with the walkability and greenness of where they spent their time.” While unsurprising, these findings indicate that coordinated improvements to pedestrian infrastructure and green spaces can improve public health. According to study co-author Aaron Hipp, “It’s unfortunately rare to live or work in a neighborhood that has the walking infrastructure like sidewalks, destinations like a spot for lunch, and are green and shaded. This work again supports that the best environments have all three.” 

“The new findings suggest that having opportunities to walk between home, work and other destinations is likely to boost physical activity, as long as those areas are also very green.” The study’s authors recommend “interventions to plant vegetation should focus on doing so in areas where walkability is high to maximize opportunities for physical activity.” 

Other research similarly suggests that, while hard infrastructure like sidewalks are an important factor in walkability, other elements—such as air quality, shade, and access to essential services—all contribute to a neighborhood’s walkability and the health of its residents.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in NCSU News

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