Walkable Neighborhoods Have Happier, Healthier People

24 Dec

People who live in communities where they walk to the amenities of daily life like coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, restaurants, and parks are more trusting and civically involved than people who live in car-centric places, say researchers from the University of New Hampshire in a study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life.

The researchers scored 700 residents of three communities in New Hampshire on measures of “social capital” such as socializing with friends, civic engagement and trust in their community. They found those in neighborhoods with higher Walk Score ratings reported being happier and healthier and more apt to volunteer, work on community projects or simply entertain friends at home.

“In the age of increasing energy costs and climate considerations, the ability to walk to important locations is a key component of sustainable communities,” write Shannon Rogers and the co-authors of the study, published online in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Furthermore, as the Sierra Club points out on its The Green Life blog, these happy and healthy walkers are also blessed with higher property values: A 2009 study by CEOs for Cities found that homes with an above-average Walk Score sold for up to $34,000 more than their no-sidewalk-in-sight counterparts.

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