Some Cities Planned Ways to Encourage Walking

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • When I moved into my current home, I remember thinking a lot about convenience. I’m within easy walking distance of a grocery store, a post office, a coffee shop, a pharmacy, a bank, several restaurants, several exercise studios, several park, a gas station where I get my car serviced, and several bus stops.  At that point, I was working in a job at an office located fairly far from my home. However, now that I work out of my home and have my elderly father living with me, I am even more appreciative of having everything nearby.

    However, the accessibility that I have is not the case in all parts of the city where I live – or in the country, for that matter. Yet, some cities are really being proactive in this area. Walk Score has just released the list the Most Walkable U.S. Cities and Neighborhoods. These cities were determined based on an analysis of over 10 million addresses and 2 billion walking routes to neighborhood amenities that are located in 2,500 cities and 10,000-plus neighborhoods. “Cities and neighborhoods are rated on a scale of 0-100, with locations receiving a score of 90-100 deemed a “Walker’s Paradise,” the Walk Score press release states.

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    That’s important because walking is a great way to stay healthy. The American Heart Association points out that walking for at least 30 minutes a day offers a variety of health benefits. These include:

    • Reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
    • Improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
    • Improved blood lipid profile.
    • Maintenance of body weight.
    • Lower risk of obesity.
    • Enhanced mental well-being.
    • Reduced risk of osteoporosis.
    • Reduced risk of breast cancer.
    • Reduced risk of colon cancer.
    • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

    Furthermore, walking is easy to do, low cost and has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise program; thus, walking is an activity that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle and that can make a big difference.
    Walk Score offers some interesting data to support the idea of a walkable city:

    • A generational imperative - Seventy percent of Millennials (who are between the ages of 18-30) rate walkability as important factor when they are deciding where to reside. One third of this group said they would pay more for a location where they could easily walk to work, stores and entertainment.
    • A health benefit - The average resident who lives in a walkable neighborhood actually weighs eight pounds less than a resident of a sprawling neighborhood.
    • Additional savings – Living in a walkable neighborhood helps Americans save money since they don’t need to use their automobile to get somewhere. On average, Americans spend more than $9,000 annually on a car, which is more than they spend on food, clothing and health care annually.

    Walk Score also rated 10 of the largest cities in the United States on their walkability. Those rankings are:

    • New York (which had a score of 87.6)
    • San Francisco (with a score of 83.9)
    • Boston (with a score of 79.5)
    • Philadelphia (with a score of 76.5)
    • Miami (with a score of 75.6)
    • Chicago (with a score of 74.8)
    • Washington, D.C. (with a score of 74.1)
    • Seattle (with a score of 70.8)
    • Oakland (with a score of 68.5
    • Baltimore, with a score of 66.2

    Walk Score also has rated the top 10 cities for biking. These are:

    • Portland (with a score of 70.3)
    • San Francisco (with a score of 70)
    • Denver (with a score of 69.5)
    • Philadelphia (with a score of 68.4)
    • Boston (with a score of 67.8)
    • Washington, D.C. (with a score of 65.3)
    • Seattle (with a score of 64.1)
    • Tucson (with a score of 64.1)
    • New York (with a bike score of 62.3)
    • Chicago (with a bike score of 61.5)

    If you live in one of these areas, congratulations! If you don’t, start encouraging your city officials to explore making your community more accessible for walkers and cyclists!

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    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    American Heart Association. (nd). The benefits of walking.

    Walk Score. (2013). Walk Score releases 2014 rankings of most walkable U.S. cities and neighborhoods.

Published On: November 07, 2013