Zuniga-Teran and her team have extensively investigated how neighborhood design influences physical activity and wellbeing. They studied “four types of neighborhood designs: traditional development [these include homes and accessible commercial spaces], suburban development, enclosed [gated] community, and cluster housing development [which generally preserve natural/green spaces and include townhouse-type homes], and assess their level of walkability and their effects on physical activity and wellbeing. . . . traditional development showed . . .
Increase Physical Activity
Brookfield probed how resident preferences align with neighborhood design elements that have been tied to walkability. She found, after conducting focus groups with eleven residents’ groups with diverse sets of participants, that “Residents’ groups favoured providing a selection of services and facilities addressing a local need, such as a corner shop, within a walkable distance, but not the immediate vicinity, of housing. . . .
Lathia and colleagues have identified ties between physical activity and happiness. As they report, “Although exercise has also been linked to psychological health (e.g., happiness), little research has examined physical activity more broadly, taking into account non-exercise activity as well as exercise. We examined the relationship between physical activity (measured broadly) and happiness using a smartphone application. . . . . The findings reveal that individuals who are more physically active are happier.
Researchers at Louisiana State University have studied links between parents’ concerns about neighborhoods and the amount of time their children spend playing outdoors. The scientists report, in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, that “parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. . . . ‘Parents who do not trust their neighbors or feel they have no control over neighborhood problems were more likely to restrict their child’s outdoor play,’ says lead author Maura Kepper, PhD. . .
Li and Joh have identified a positive relationship between home values, the bikeability of neighborhoods, and the presence of viable public transit: home values increase with bikeability and feasible transit options. As Li and Joh report, “Planners and policy makers are increasingly promoting biking and public transit as viable means of transportation. The integration of bicycling and transit has been acknowledged as a strategy to increase the mode share of bicycling and the efficiency of public transit by solving the first- and last-mile problem. . .
Koschinsky and her team wanted to better understand what motivates people to lace on their sneakers and go for a walk. Their work focused on data collected with two different instruments, “Walk Score” and the “State of Place Index”: “Walk Score is used to measure walkable access while the State of Place Index is applied to synthesize the qualitative urban form dimensions” that have been linked to walking among people in an area. These include trees, crosswalks, and benches being present, for example. Using data from 115 walkable neighborhoods in Washington DC’s metropolitan area the team
Miller and Krizan studied the emotional consequences of the walking that we do as we live our daily lives. They learned that “walking incidental to routine activity (heretofore referred to as "incidental ambulation")-not specifically "exercise"-is a robust facilitator [enabler] of positive affect [mood]. . . . ambulation [walking] facilitates positive affect even when participants are blind to” its ability to do so.
Now there are even more reasons to make sure people exercising can listen to music. Stork and Ginis “investigated the impact of listening to music during exercise on perceived enjoyment, attitudes and intentions towards sprint interval training (SIT). Twenty men . . . and women . . . unfamiliar with SIT exercise completed two acute sessions of SIT, one with and one without music. . . . Attitudes towards SIT were significantly more positive following the music than no music condition. . . .
A study lead by Rioux in France provides additional insights into how urban design can influence walking. The researchers compared “walking patterns in two neighborhoods with different numbers of parks; parks did not differ in rated attractiveness nor did neighborhoods differ substantially in rated walkability.” Data were collected from people 32 to 86 years old. When these individuals “drew their 3 most recent walking routes on maps of their neighborhood.
There’s more evidence that perceptions of situations can trump reality. Orstad and her team found after they “systematically searched three databases for studies that examined agreement between perceived and objective measures and/or associations between comparable variables and physical activity. . . . [that] Perceived neighborhood environment variables were significantly associated with physical activity . . . at slightly higher rates than objective neighborhood environment variables.”