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New Housing Developments Encourage Walking

A long-term study shows that people who live in new housing developments that provide access to public transportation, parks and nearby shops are more likely to walk regularly and improve their over-all health.

Lead researcher Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne reports that walking increased among residents of new housing developments in Perth,Western Australia. His team surveyed more than 1,400 participants building homes before relocation in new housing developments and about 12 months later.

The investigators found that the residents’ physical activity increased by an extra five to six minutes of walking per week for every local shop available in the area. Recreational facilities such as parks or beaches increased physical activity by an extra 21 minutes per week. They believe that this shows that local infrastructure that supports walking can help improve the residents’ health behaviors.

The study, which was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, could impact public health and urban design policy since it demonstrates that people respond to an environment supports physical activity. Professor Giles-Corti adds that government policies such as the Victorian State Government’s new Metropolitan Planning Strategy may be affected, because increased physical activity could reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, which pose a huge burden to the health system.


University of Melbourne. Walk it out: Urban design plays key role in creating healthy cities. ScienceDaily.

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