Staying mobile and physically active can support our overall well-being which is especially crucial for the elderly population. Apart from participating in senior activities, a walkable neighborhood also provides plenty of benefits to senior health. Learn about the different advantages that residents in walkable neighborhoods in independent living in Indialantic, FL stand to enjoy.
Characteristics of a Walkable Neighborhood
A walkable neighborhood is, as the name implies, a place that is convenient and comfortable to explore on foot. Although there is a variety of definitions of a walkable neighborhood, the following are the most common characteristics:
- Pedestrian-friendly features that can include well-lit walkways and crosswalks, reduced speed limits, and functional traffic signals.
- A warm and welcoming environment created by the factors of thoughtful design, beautiful landscaping, and strategically placed outside seating.
- Easily reachable by foot locations that encourage walking for a variety of purposes beyond leisure.
Benefits of Walkable Neighborhoods for the Elderly
Many older adults are drawn to walkable neighborhoods due to evidence suggesting that they contribute significantly to the development of thriving, healthy communities. The following are some of the many advantages of living in a walkable neighborhood:
- Healthy Lifestyle
Walking regularly has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including weight management, increased cardiovascular fitness, disease prevention, stronger bones and muscles, elevated mood, enhanced immunity, and decreased stress levels.
- Social Connection
It is much simpler to strike up conversations with your neighbors when walking than it is while driving, which helps to fortify the fabric of your neighborhood. It has been shown through studies that an increase in walkability increases social capital. Increases in trust and participation in civic life are the results of higher levels of social capital, which in turn reduces feelings of isolation and makes communities safer for their residents.
- Better Mental Health
Those who live in more walkable neighborhoods tend to be happier and have a higher quality of life overall. Walking instead of driving to a nearby location is preferable not just because it saves gas money, but also because it reduces the tension that comes from being behind the wheel.
- Lower Carbon Footprint
In 2020, the transportation sector was responsible for 27% of the EPA’s projected greenhouse gas emissions. When you walk one mile instead of driving, you cut your carbon dioxide output by 404 grams. Two million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be avoided annually if half of Americans made their short driving excursions (of one mile or less) by walking or biking instead. When there are fewer cars on the road, noise pollution is also reduced in your immediate area, which is just one more way that walkability helps the environment.
- Financial Gains
Besides the obvious cost savings from not having to buy gas, there are also other financial benefits of walking for your car, such as reducing your vehicle’s mileage and extending its lifespan. AAA estimates that the cost of driving ranges from 55 cents to 83 cents per mile, giving pedestrians even more reason to opt for foot travel.