File this one under “We’re not surprised.” According to researchers, taking walks in older cities leads to a healthier life.
“Over the course of the 20th century, we did a great job of engineering utilitarian active transportation out of our daily lives,” said Wesley Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Colorado Denver, who joined Norman Garrick of the University of Connecticut in writing the report.
In a statement, Garrick noted that while urban designers from the previous century were “well-intentioned,” they “effectively forced people to make an effort to seek out exercise” rather than get a workout from simple strolling about.
“While it is possible to lead an active, healthy lifestyle in most any type of neighbourhood,” he said. “Our findings suggest that people living in more compact cities do tend to have better health outcomes.”
The problem with cities of more recent vintage is that they were conceived with the automobile in mind. Wide, car-friendly streets and the presence of so-called “big box” retailers, such as Costco and Wal-Mart, not to mention fast-food restaurants, have contributed to ailments that include diabetes and obesity, the authors of the study conclude.
The researchers argue that these cities suffer from an “inferior pedestrian environment” and propose that urban environments be revamped to place the emphasis back on walking.
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