Walkable Neighborhoods Connected to Healthier Pregnancies, Births

More evidence of the public health benefits of walkable neighborhoods.

2 minute read

August 22, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A pregnant woman holds hand with a man in an urban setting.

Yakobchuk Olena / Adobe Stock

A new study published in the journal of Economics and Human Biology presents evidence of the immense health benefits of walkable communities for expectant mothers and their babies.

Pregnant women that live in walkable communities—with more sidewalks, parks and walking paths—not only engage in more physical activity but are also more likely to experience favorable birth outcomes,” according to a press release from the University of New Hampshire announcing the study.

“They found that a 10-point increase in the walkability index—equivalent to transitioning from the "least walkable" to the "most walkable" category—is associated with a more than 70-minute increase in weekly exercise among pregnant women,” adds the press release. “This same change results in an 0.8 percentage point increase in the likelihood of a full-term birth, a 0.07-week extension in gestational age, a 27g increase in birth weight, and a 27% reduction in the likelihood of gestational diabetes and 16% reduction in hypertension.”

Researchers Karen Conway, professor of economics at UNH’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, and Andrea Menclova, associate professor of economics at the University of Canterbury used walkability measures created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as detailed data on physical activity from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and pregnancy outcomes from the National Vital Statistics Natality Detail Files to complete the study, according to the press release.

Thursday, August 17, 2023 in University of New Hampshire

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