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Walkable Neighborhoods Mean Fitter Residents

Infrogmation at Wikimedia Commons under a GNU Free Documentation license.)(This is another installment in this week’s “Walk This Way” series on walkable neighborhoods in the U.S.)

Here’s a shocker (not really): living in a walkable neighborhood reduces your chances of being overweight.

It should seem obvious, but a new study from the University of Utah has tracked the connection between walkable neighborhoods and weight statistically. The researchers found that the average guy living in a walkable neighborhood weighed 10 pounds less than his more car-dependent counterpart, while the average woman weighed six pounds less.

Demographer Ken Smith conducted the study with several other researchers at the University of Utah: Barbara Brown, Cathleen D. Zick, Jessie X. Fan, Lori Kowaleski-Jones and Ikuho Yamada. They based their conclusions on 2000 Census data and body mass index (BMI) measurements of nearly a half-million residents of Salt Lake City.

The study found the most notable differences in walkability between neighborhoods built before 1950 and those built afterward, when planners put a greater emphasis on accommodating car traffic.

“We have the opportunity, using evidence-based data on community design, to create neighborhoods that encourage less car driving, benefiting residents’ health and wallets and shrinking our own carbon footprint,” Smith said. “We expect these results mean that residents find walking more attractive and enjoyable where there are other walkers, a variety of destinations easily accessible by foot and pedestrian-friendly street networks. People want to walk when it’s pleasant, convenient and when there is a destination.”

It should seem so obvious, shouldn’t it?

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‘Walk This Way’ Week: How Pedestrian-Friendly is Your Town?