There's yet another reason to pick that walkable community you've been thinking about for your next home. Walking is good for brain health and could contribute to keeping seniors more cognitively fit.
That's according to new research by the BRAIN Lab at Colorado State University. It shows that aerobic exercise, particularly walking, positively affects – refreshes – the brain’s white matter. "White matter deterioration is associated with cognitive impairment in healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease," says the study.
Even if you've been inactive during the pandemic, putting on your walking shoes could improve your health. And living somewhere that allows for regular strolls and running errands on foot makes daily walks all the easier. Walkable communities also improve satisfaction, according to a pair of studies, the “Community and Transportation Preference Surveys,” conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® earlier this year.
Respondents who strongly agree that there are "lots of places to walk nearby" show an 8% increase in quality of life, for example. And older generations – Gen X and beyond – and those with higher incomes showed an increased interest in walkability.
So, when you're scoping out a new neighbourhood, keep an eye out for the elements that make for a walkable community.
According to Walkscore, they are:
-A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it's a main street or a public space.
-People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.
-Mixed-income, mixed-use: Affordable housing located near businesses.
-Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.
-Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street and parking lots are relegated to the back.
-Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.
-Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.
In 2020, Walkscore ranked Canada's most walkable cities and the top five are:
1. Vancouver (79.8 out of 100)
2. Montreal (65.4)
3. Toronto (61.0)
4. Hamilton (49.6)
5. Mississauga (48.9)
Learn more about walkable communities, how to incorporate walking into your day-to-day life, and where to find walking groups.