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'Walkable' Communities More Close-Knit, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Americans who live in walkable neighborhoods are more involved in their communities, more trusting and have a higher quality of life, a new study suggests.

A walkable community means people have an easy stroll to such destinations as parks and playgrounds, club meetings, and services such as a post office, barbershop, coffee shops and restaurants, explained study author Shannon Rogers and colleagues, from the University of New Hampshire.

They interviewed 700 residents in 20 neighborhoods in two New Hampshire cities about the number of locations they could reach by foot in their community, their trust in the local community, participation in community activities and socializing with friends, all of which comprise what is called "social capital."

The researchers found that walkable neighborhoods scored higher on every measure of social capital than less walkable neighborhoods. People who lived in walkable neighborhoods were also more likely to report being in good health and happy more often than those in less walkable neighborhoods.

"Walkability has been linked to quality of life in other studies. Walkability may also enhance social capital by providing the means and locations for individuals to connect, share information and interact with those that they might not otherwise meet," the researchers noted.

"The links we found between walkability and measures of social capital in this study provide further evidence for the consideration of social capital as a key component of quality of life," they concluded.

The study appears online in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

More information

The American Podiatric Medical Association outlines the benefits of walking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Applied Research in Quality of Life, news release, Dec. 7, 2010

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