Residential Neighborhood/Area

Walkability and Health (04-15-22)

Research by Wali and teammates confirms that walkability boosts health.  They share that they examined “high resolution data for 476 participants in the Rails and Health study on health care costs, mode specific MVPA[ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity], parcel-level built environment, and neighborhood perception surveys. . . .  A 1% increase in bike, walk, and transit-related MVPA was associated with lower health care costs by −0.28%, −0.09%, and −0.27% respectively. A one-unit increase in neighborhood walkability index correlates with a 6.48% reduction in health care costs. . . .

Green Space and Healthcare Costs (03-29-22)

Work by a research team lead by Van Den Eeden provides additional evidence that living near green spaces is good for our health.  The team reports that they “sought to determine if residential green cover was also associated with direct healthcare costs. We linked residential Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) satellite data for 5,189,303 [people] . . . to direct individual healthcare costs for 2003–2015. . . . we examined the association between direct healthcare costs and green cover within 250, 500, and 1000 meters (m) of an individual’s residence. . . .

Changing Neighborhood Temperatures (03-28-22)

Research indicates that urban design is affecting neighborhood temperatures.  A study conducted in Australia by Rouhollahi, Boland, and others determined that “New housing subdivisions, smaller yards and a dependence on air conditioning have resulted in a 30 per cent decline in Australian residential trees in the past decade, leading to hotter neighbourhoods and increased energy costs.”

Green Areas and Strokes (03-22-22)

Living near a green area has been linked to less likelihood of having a stroke.  Researchers report that “The risk of suffering an ischaemic stroke, the most common type of cerebrovascular event, is 16% less in people who have green spaces less than 300 metres from their homes. . . . The study took into account information on exposure to three atmospheric pollutants linked to vehicle traffic. . . . The results indicate a direct relationship between increased levels of NO2 in the atmosphere and the risk of ischaemic stroke.

Walkability and Health (03-02-22)

Howell and Booth link neighborhood walkability and the presence of outdoor amenities to better health and fewer cases of diabetes among residents.  The duo report that “researchers and policymakers alike have been searching for effective means to promote healthy lifestyles at a population level. . . . there has been a proliferation of research examining how the ‘built’ environment in which we live influences physical activity levels, by promoting active forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling, over passive ones, such as car use.

Greenspace and Mental Health (02-28-22)

Reid, Rieves, and Carlson evaluated the effects of access to greenspace on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They share that they used data collected via a survey completed by Denver, CO residents (November 2019 – January 2021) “and [also] measured objective green space as the average NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) from aerial imagery within 300m and 500m of the participant’s residence.

Behavioral Implications of Neighborhood Design (01-07-22)

Hunter and colleagues studied how neighborhood design influences resident actions.  They report that “Parents . . . with preschoolers . . . living in Edmonton, Canada were recruited from each of Edmonton’s council wards. Parents reported demographic information and the importance of several neighborhood features (destinations, design, social, safety, esthetics) for their child’s active play, their own active recreation, and their coactivity. . . . The majority of parents reported that 23 of the 32 neighborhood features were perceived as being relevant for all activity domains.

Developing Walkable Places

What sorts of design features encourage people to go outdoors and walk around their neighborhoods, towns and cities?  Neuroscience research supplies answers to that question while also making it clear that walking can help us think more clearly, creatively, and productively, all as we burn calories.  

Urban Planning for Child Development (11-19-21)

Binter and colleagues studied links between urban design and child development.  They report that they “investigated the association between early-life urban environment and cognitive and motor function in children. We used data from 5403 mother–child pairs from four population-based birth-cohorts (UK, France, Spain, and Greece). . . . Higher greenness exposure within 300 m during pregnancy was associated with higher verbal abilities. . . . Higher connectivity density within 100 m and land use diversity during pregnancy were related to lower verbal abilities.


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