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Walkable cities bring good health
By Michelle Robertson
Well-designed cities with neighbourhoods that are pleasant to walk in lead to lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension risk among their residents. This is according to the findings of a study that included 22 UK cities and around 430,000 people aged between 38 and 73. It was found that “the intangible value of urban design” could dramatically improve long term health outcomes, and designing cities to promote active lifestyles could have “significant repercussions for the health of urban populations”.
According to Dr Chinmoy Sarkar, the lead author of the study: “We are spending billions of pounds in preventing and curing cardiovascular diseases. But if we invest in creating healthy cities through small retrofits of our neighbourhoods to make them more activity-friendly and walkable, it will result in significant savings in future healthcare expenditures.”
Chinmoy added that poorly designed spaces “generally inhibited walking and physical activity”, thus promoting sedentary lifestyles. He notes that walkability is “based on the underlying design of the city”, so it is possible for them to be modified or re-designed to encourage it. He concluded that, “Such investments in healthy design are likely to bring long term health gains that are enduring and pervasive.”