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Walk-Friendly Communities Reduce High Blood Pressure

How often do you find yourself walking places instead of driving? If the answer is rarely, this study’s results might just inspire you to change your habits.

Of course, we know there are many benefits to walking – not to mention what you’re saving on fuel – but research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 said people who moved from a neighbourhood reliant on vehicles to run errands to one that made walking-errands convenient were considerably less likely to have high blood pressure.

The study was the first to determine whether moving to a walking-friendly neighborhood affected blood pressure, and to do researchers compared 1,057 pairs of adults from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2001 to 2010), who moved from a low walkability neighborhood to either a high walkability or another low walkability neighborhood in Ontario, Canada.

Blood-pressure data was obtained from linked health administrative databases held and analyzed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and patients were monitored for up to 10 years.

When the results were in, it was concluded that people who moved to a walking-friendly neighborhood had a 54 per cent lower risk of high blood pressure than people who left one walking-unfriendly neighborhood for another.

High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease — the leading cause of death in both Australia and the United States — and for stroke.

The study’s lead author, Maria Chiu, Ph.D, said “We need to set people up for success by making walking instead of driving the more convenient and enjoyable choice”.

“Urban planners and policymakers can do their part by designing neighborhoods that are more pedestrian-friendly.”

Researchers noted that they did not have detailed dietary data other than fruit and vegetable consumption, which could affect blood pressure.

Originally published by Science Daily.


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Alana Lowes

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