The impact of the neighborhood on fitness and health – FITBOOK

According to numerous studies, which residential area we choose has a huge impact on fitness and thus health. This is especially true for neighborhoods in larger cities.

When moving to a new city, of course, the question arises: what neighborhood, what neighborhood, what environment should it be? Researchers say: Take a closer look at your potential residential area, because how streets, parks and the like are decorated also affects your health.

What it means for your health to live in a “gift-friendly neighborhood”.

Bicycle paths, beautiful parks that invite to jogging or walking, shops for everyday needs and cozy cafes within walking distance – inner city neighborhoods that rarely let residents get in the car and encourage them to play sports are considered particularly “walkable”. With positive effects on physical and mental health, as shown by a study that evaluated various publications on the subject.1 For example, a survey of 14 cities in 10 countries showed that residents in neighborhoods where they can go most of their daily errands walk nearly 90 minutes more per week than residents in less activity-friendly neighborhoods.2

According to the authors, however, the question remains: do “active” environments really increase fitness or make more physically active and therefore generally healthier people consciously move to neighborhoods that match their interests?

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Does moving to a new neighborhood increase fitness levels?

That’s exactly what another 2014 study from 2014 was about. This found clear evidence that better access to shops, trails, parks and public transportation gets newcomers to train 16 minutes more a week.3 In addition, long-term blood pressure lowers moving from an “inaccessible” area to an easily accessible area.4 According to the authors of the study, this has a positive overall effect on body mass index and diabetes risk.

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How neighborhood choices can protect against obesity and diabetes

This thesis was aptly confirmed by a study from Canada conducted two years later, in which 30,000 women and men participated. It found that people living in walkable neighborhoods were 10 percent less likely to be overweight.5 An even larger and more recent study of 1.1 million healthy adults showed that less “active” living environments increased the likelihood of developing pre-diabetes by 20 percent.6

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Conclusion: Urban planners should take health factors into account

In the end, the authors conclude that a large number of globally representative studies indicate that denser and more walkable neighborhoods contribute significantly to the health of the population. Green areas, nearby shops, leisure activities and the like allow people to go outside without a car. An opportunity which, according to the authors, is also being seized by most of the residents. In the name of public health and also in order to reduce air pollution, these factors should therefore also be taken into account in future urban planning.

Sources

  • 1. Howell NA, Booth GL (2022). Site weight: Built environment correlates with obesity and diabetes. endocrine reviews.
  • Sallis JF, Cerin E, Conway TL et al. (2016) Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study. lancet
  • 3. Hirsch JA, Diez Roux AV, Moore KA et al. (2014) Change in gait and body mass index after moving house: the multiethnic study of atherosclerosis. Am J Public Health.
  • 4. Chiu M, Rezai MR, Maclagan LC, et al. (2016) Moving to a very gifted neighborhood and occurrence of hypertension: A propensity-score matched cohort study. Environment Health perspective.
  • 5. Creator MI, Glazier RH, Moineddin R et al. (2016) Association of Neighborhood Walkability with change in overweight, obesity and diabetes. JAMA.
  • 6. Fazli GS, Moineddin R, Chu A, et al. (2020) Walkability in neighborhoods and prevalence of pre-diabetes in a multiethnic population. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care

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