All posts in “Walkability”

A Look Back at 2013: More Data for More Places

Number of websites using Walk Score

Number of websites using Walk Score

2013 was another exciting year for Walk Score. We expanded our network to over 30,000 real estate sites across which we’re now delivering over 13 million scores per day for addresses throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Source of the quote

Smart Planet (Nov 2013)

As a team, we continue to be committed to helping renters and home buyers find great places to live because we believe walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, shorter commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

More Data for More Markets

In 2013, we advanced the breadth, depth and accuracy of our data that is available for any address in the U.S., Canada and Australia as well as at the the neighborhood, zip code and city level. Key milestones include:

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

New Street Smart algorithm

  • 2014 ranking of Most Walkable Cities and Neighborhoods and updated Street Smart algorithm.
  • First Walk Score neighborhood and city rankings in Canada and Australia.
  • Transit Score and Bike Score are now available for any address in hundreds of the largest U.S. cities.
  • New Travel Time API including rush hour drive times and map visualizations for web and mobile apps.
  • New ChoiceMaps that make it easier to understand the difference, for example, between very walkable neighborhoods such as our own Capitol Hill where the average resident can walk to 21 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in 5 minutes and Mid-Town Manhattan where it’s 142!
  • New Neighborhood Crime Reports that provide a more accurate view of crime and safety by weighting crimes by severity and normalizing the data by how many people live and work in a neighborhood.

And I’d be remiss if I forgot to thank the thousands of people who help to keep our data up to date every day and who add photos and descriptions of the neighborhood places they love to help others make smart and informed decisions about where to live.

Independent Validation

Having walkability ratings available for any address across the U.S., Canada and Australia is not only great for real estate, it’s great for research and, in 2013, we’re proud to have once again had the opportunity to partner with leading academic researchers studying the financial and health outcomes associated with walkability. A couple recent examples:

LaSalle Investment Management (August 2013)

LaSalle Investment Management (Aug 2013)

  • Just last month, Fannie Mae published a study by University of Arizona Professor, Gary Pivo, showing that “where Walk Score is 80 or more the relative risk of default is 60% lower than where Walk Score is less than 80.”
  • The August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine included two peer reviewed articles using Walk Score data. We love this video summarizing one of these studies and showcasing how Walk Score data helps make research more efficient.
  • See more research using Walk Score data.

Kudos!

Finally, it’s always nice to be recognized for your work and contributions. So, thank you to GeekWire for nominating Walk Score for App of the Year, to Inman News for once again recognizing our co-founder Matt Lerner as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate, and to Transportation Choices for naming Walk Score to their Hall of Fame.

Over the past half dozen years we’ve helped to lead the way in educating consumers and the real estate market about the benefits of walkable neighborhoods and, in 2013, we were excited to see demand for walkable places continue to grow and increasing investment from key stakeholders including real estate developers, city governments and the health care community.

Here’s to helping more people find great, walkable places to live in 2014!

Top 10 Most Walkable College Towns

top 10 walkable college towns

College towns burst with school spirit and are shaped by the character of the university or universities in the area. College towns are also distinguished by the surrounding city, the social and cultural gathering places, outdoor spaces and the mix of nearby businesses and amenities.

Our list of the Most Walkable College Towns includes cities with mid-size universities like Brown (the alma mater of two Walk Score co-founders) and large universities like Cal Berkeley with tens of thousands of students.

The Top 10 Most Walkable College Towns in the US:

1. Cambridge, MA Walk Score 87 (Harvard University and MIT)

2. Berkeley, CA Walk Score 79 (University of California at Berkeley)

3. Providence, RI Walk Score 76 (Brown University)

4. Evanston, IL Walk Score 74 (Northwestern University)

5. Hempstead, NY Walk Score 71 (Hofstra University)

6. Ithaca, NY Walk Score 65 (Cornell University)

7. New Haven, CT Walk Score 65 (Yale University)

8. Albany, NY Walk Score 63 (State University of New York at Albany)

9. Medford, MA Walk Score 63 (Tufts University)

10. Lowell, MA Walk Score 62 (University of Massachusetts)

To rank the Top 10 Most Walkable College Towns we analyzed the Walk Score of the cities where the top 200 largest universities are located and then sorted by population, removing larger cities (with over 200,000 residents) which represent a more diversified population and economic base.

Why is walkability important in a college town?

Simply put, cars are expensive; walking is not. The increasing costs of driving is leading young Americans to drive less, according to the Frontier Group. Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16 to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.

Younger Americans are also becoming less likely to take out loans to buy and maintain cars. New research by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that student debt has grown dramatically over the last decade — some 43 percent of Americans under age 25 had student debt in 2012, with an average debt burden of over $20,000.

One way that students can save money is by not owning and maintaining a car. And, in fact, public transportation use is up 40 percent per capita in this age group since 2001 and bicycling is up 24 percent.

Accessible Living:

Walk Score is helping students find housing by aggregating apartments and homes for rent from around the Web to make it easy for students to find places to live by commute time, walkability, and access to public transit.

As a college student myself, my favorite aspect of living in the walkable neighborhood of Seattle’s University District, is that daily errands don’t require a car. Within walking distance is a concentrated core of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grocery stores, parks, and entertainment that are essential to the community.

Finding an apartment is similar to choosing a college. You factor in the costs, size, people you will live with, the extensive application process, and most importantly, location. Location is key to the college experience and Walk Score can help you find the right fit!

2014 Ranking of Most Walkable Cities & Neighborhoods

most walkable us cities and neighborhoods

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions to live healthier and save money, we’re announcing our 2014 ranking of Most Walkable U.S. Cities and Neighborhoods. Read the official press release.

We hope this new ranking helps people find great places to live that offer a breadth of nearby amenities including food, entertainment, shopping, schools, parks, bike lanes and public transit. Being able to walk out your door and leave your car at home more often is great for your wallet, health and quality of life.

Walk Score Ranking of Largest U.S. Cities

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# 1

New York

Walk Score: 87.6
New York

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# 2

San Francisco

Walk Score: 83.9
San Francisco

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# 3

Boston

Walk Score: 79.5
Boston

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# 4

Philadelphia

Walk Score: 76.5
Philadelphia

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# 5

Miami

Walk Score: 75.6
Miami

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# 6

Chicago

Walk Score: 74.8
New York

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# 7

Washington D.C.

Walk Score: 74.1
San Francisco

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# 8

Seattle

Walk Score: 70.8
Seattle

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# 9

Oakland

Walk Score: 68.5
Oakland

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#10

Baltimore

Walk Score: 66.2
Baltimore

 

Based on our Street Smart Walk Score algorithm and analysis of over 10 million addresses and 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods, the 2014 ranking is our most sophisticated to date. Read our 2014 rankings methodology.

Live Healthier, Happier & Save Money in 2014

“The typical American family spends 1/5th of their income on transportation and countless hours are wasted commuting long distances,” said Jeff Speck author, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time. “Walk Score is leading the way in helping people make smart and informed decisions about where to live. Nothing makes as big of an impact on your health and quality of life as finding a better commute and living in a walkable neighborhood.”

  • Be Healthier: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs eight pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
  • Be Happier: People who live in walkable communities are more socially engaged and trusting than those who live in less walkable areas.
  • Save Money: The average American spends over $9,000 per year on their car making cars the second largest expense for most households, costing more than food, clothing and health care.

While many of the highest ranking cities are prohibitively expensive areas to live, real estate in very walkable places such as Oakland and Baltimore can be very reasonable. Likewise, rentals in Philadelphia are infinitely more affordable than in NYC.

Find Your Neighborhood Today

To help you get started, we created this list of select Walker’s Paradise neighborhoods where you can live healthier, happier and car-free in 2014. In addition to having a Walk Score of over 90 all of these neighborhoods also offer access to excellent public transit with a Transit Score of 70+.

Learn more about our apartment and rental search and download our updated Apartments and Rentals iPhone App to search for places to live by commute time, access to public transit, Walk Score and your “Gotta Have” amenities.

 

2014 City and Neighborhood Ranking Methodology

Our 2014 ranking is the first time we’ve calculated city and neighborhood scores using our Street Smart Walk Score algorithm.  To calculate the rankings, we scored over 10 million locations and computed over 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities and more than 10,000 neighborhoods.

We’ve made a number of significant improvements to the Walk Score algorithm:

  • Walking routes: Billions of walking routes are quickly calculated using our Travel Time API.
  • Depth of choice: To capture what makes a place truly walkable, we’re analyzing hundreds of nearby amenities for each location to measure depth of choice (see ChoiceMaps for more info).
  • Pedestrian friendliness: We’ve improved our analysis of pedestrian friendliness with better road metrics such as intersection density and average block length.
  • Mixed use: We’re using population data to determine whether a neighborhood is mixed use (residential and commercial) or single use.
  • Improved local data: We’ve continued to improve our local data sources, including over 35,000 additions and removals of places from Walk Score users.
Walk Score Point Grid

Walk Score Point Grid

Ranking Methodology

To rank cities and neighborhoods, we calculate the Walk Score of approximately every city block (technically a grid of latitude and longitude points spaced roughly 500 feet apart).

Each point is weighted by population density so that the rankings reflect where people live and so that neighborhoods and cities do not have lower scores because of parks, bodies of water, etc.

Roosevelt Island: Before and After

Since this is the first city and neighborhood ranking we’ve done with our Street Smart algorithm, here’s a fun island example.  You can see the score decreasing for Roosevelt Island since water barriers prevent residents from accessing nearby Manhattan.

The Walk Score for Roosevelt Island decreases due to water barriers.

The Walk Score for Roosevelt Island decreases due to water barriers.

How Scores Are Changing

Almost all of our city and neighborhood scores have changed — some improved and some declined. The trend line in the graph below shows that neighborhoods with low scores decreased the most. This is likely due to longer routed distances, poor road metrics like intersection density and block length, and a lack of mixed use development.

Neighborhoods with high scores tended to improve a little because our Street Smart algorithm records high depth of choice in categories like restaurants and shopping.

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

Some neighborhoods improved, some declined.

A More Complete Picture of Location

With these updates to the Walk Score algorithm, our expansion to over 300 cities with Transit Score and 100+ cities with Bike Score, we’re able to provide a more complete picture of what’s outside the four walls of a home or apartment.

Thanks for your support!

Walkability and Low Income Housing Tax Credits

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is using Walk Score to encourage real estate developers to create affordable housing in walkable neighborhoods.

Specifically, developments with a high Walk Score are awarded points that help projects qualify for low income housing tax credits.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 4.52.39 PM

Walk Score in low income housing tax credit application.

How Do Low Income Housing Tax Credits Work?

The IRS runs a low income housing tax credit program called LIHTC (pronounced lie-tech) that provides a certain number of housing tax credits each year to states based on population. Real estate developers who meet the state criteria (known as a qualified allocation plan), compete for the tax credits.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Developers who are awarded the credits sell them at discounted rates to investors (e.g. a bank). The investors can apply these tax credits to any part of their federal tax bill.

Selling the tax credits allows the developer to reduce the debt required to finance their project. Since the property needs less income to operate, the developer can provide affordable rent for tenants. LIHTC is heralded as one of the most effective housing programs created by the federal government.

Why Use Walk Score for Low Income Housing Tax Credits? 

Walkability is a key element in the tax credit application and MSHDA decided to use Walk Score because the agency liked the methodology, it’s easy to use, and it shows how walkable each site is. Up to 10 points may be awarded for walkability, which is a significant component of the overall score.

The Value of Place Making and Walkability

“It is no secret that Michigan is known as the comeback state and one of the reasons, an important one at that, is its focus on placemaking,” said Andy Martin, Manager of the LIHTC program at MSHDA. “We believe that by revitalizing communities and rebuilding neighborhoods, we can strengthen the entire state.”

“We have learned that young knowledge workers have a strong preference for urban walkability and neighborhood amenities are just as important to them as housing amenities,” said Jim Tischler, director of Community Development at MSHDA. “We believe placemaking and walkability are key factors in Michigan’s transformation. They want to be in places with both jobs and things to do, and we want to oblige them by giving them the walkable neighborhoods they so desperately want.”

Quantifying The Value of Walkability and Public Transit

Here at Walk Score we see the headlines that the housing market is recovering, interest rates are low and construction is on the rise, but still there is uncertainty in the macro dynamics of the real-estate market post 2007 real estate bubble.

In recent months leading academics, consulting firms and real estate associations have touted the financial benefits of buying and living in walkable cities. While the Walk Score team prepares for Inman’s Real Estate Connect conference this week, we wanted to share some recent research quantifying the financial value of walkability, access to public transit and shorter commutes.

The American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the National Association of Realtors, recently published a study titled The New Real Estate Mantra that identified “a premium associated with walkability in the form of an increase in office, residential and retail rents, retail revenues, and for-sale residential values. The recession increased the premium for retail and office space in walkable urban neighborhoods; pre-recession (defined as 2000-07) there was 
a 23 percent premium per square foot valuation, during the recession (2008-10) it jumped to 44 percent.”

Percent change in average residential sales prices relative to the region. Close to public transit v. Not close to public transit (2006-11).

Percent change in average residential sales prices close to public transit vs. not close to public transit (2006-11). Source: American Public Transportation Association.

Using Walk Score data, the consulting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper and the Urban Land Institute published Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2013. This study shows that, while there are higher values in tier one walkable cities like San Francisco and New York, top “secondary locations… offering walkability and strong transit systems continue to outshine other cites” in terms of investment value when compared to areas with lower Walk Score ratings.

PWC and the Urban Land Institute summarize it simply: “Whatever way you look at it, tenants want to walk or be near public transit. Markets that offer both options will succeed.”

Along similar lines, in a study conducted on behalf of Fannie Mae, Dr. Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona shows that “for every 5% increase in the percent of workers in a tract who walk to work, the risk of [loan] default decreases by 15%.” Pivo goes on in his most recent report analyzing variables impacting loan defaults to show that “for every 10‐minute increase in the mean commute time for residents in a census tract, the risk of default increases by 45%.”

Read more about the financial value of neighborhood walkability and see how others are using Walk Score data for economic analysis.

Walk Score and Health Outcomes

Healthy streets, healthy people.

Walking is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stay healthy.  A study by the University of Utah showed that the average person in a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone in an unwalkable neighborhood1.

We’re seeing a growing body of research using Walk Score data to study the relationship between where people live and health outcomes.

For example, public health departments are using Walk Score data to study the link between sprawl and diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular issues.  One of my favorite research studies involves giving GPS devices to participants to calculate a “personal Walk Score” based on the places a person goes throughout the day.  Cities are using Walk Score ChoiceMaps to measure how many residents can walk to fresh food or parks.

Walk Score and Esri My Place History

Today we’re excited to announce that Walk Score has teamed up with Esri, the leading provider of geospatial analysis tools, to provide healthcare professionals with access to Walk Score data for their patents.

The Esri My Place History tool helps physicians gather data on where patients have lived.  Walk Score data is now available in this tool along with information about nearby toxins and heart attack rates.

Walk Score data is now available in Esri My Place History

Walk Score data in Esri’s My Place History

Bill Davenhall, Head of Health and Human Services at Esri, noted “Walk Score is a new piece of clinical information for health care.  If physicians have  relevant information at the time they see a patient that could support their recommendations, such as ‘get more exercise’, the value of the encounter could be greatly enhanced and  the likelihood of patient compliance much higher.”

This week Matt Lerner and Jason Gruber from Walk Score are at Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C. talking about how Walk Score data can be used by health researchers and healthcare providers.

Walk Score data includes:

  • Walk Score for every location in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Transit Score based on data from hundreds of public transit agencies
  • Bike Score for 100+ cities in the U.S. and Canada
  • ChoiceMaps that measure access and choice in every city

Learn more about Walk Score data and about Walk Score and health research.

Photo by Urban Advantage.

Walk Score Ranks Australia’s Most Walkable Cities

With a Walk Score of 63, Sydney tops our first ranking of Most Walkable Australian Cities and Suburbs. To arrive at this ranking, we rated the walkablity of more than 100 Australian cities and 3,000 suburbs.  Read the official press release and our ranking methodology.

Walk Score for Sydney Australia

Australia’s 10 Most Walkable Large Cities

Sydney Australia

  1. Sydney (Walk Score: 63)
  2. Melbourne (Walk Score: 57)
  3. Adelaide (Walk Score: 54)
  4. Brisbane (Walk Score: 51)
  5. Perth (Walk Score: 50)
  6. Newcastle (Walk Score: 49)
  7. Wollongong (Walk Score: 48)
  8. Gold Coast (Walk Score: 48)
  9. Central Coast (Walk Score: 41)
  10. Canberra (Walk Score: 40)

Australians can also look up the Walk Score of their individual addresses and find Walk Score ratings on Harcourts.com.au, Homehound.com.au, WestRealEstate.com.au and other leading Australian real estate sites.

“Adding Walk Score to our real estate research products resulted in a significant uplift in our site usage,” said Tom White, CEO of PriceFinder.com.au. “The thirst for relevant and useful local information, from buyers, sellers and agents alike, cannot be overlooked and Walk Score provides this in spades. We especially appreciate the insights Walk Score brings to consumers looking to lower the cost of their transportation by selecting locations that suit their preferred transport options.”

Walkability Boosts Health and Real Estate Value

Walkable neighbourhoods offer a number of health and economic benefits. For example, a 10-year long study of Australians by the University of Melbourne found that walkable neighbourhoods with proximity to shops, parks and public transit improve people’s health and wellbeing. And, over the past decade, home values in Sydney’s walkable neighbourhoods have outperformed the rest of the city and can attract a 20% premium.

Apartment & Rental Search in Australia

Today, we’re also excited to launch our unique apartment and rental search for Australia. Search rental listings in major cities across the country by Walk Score and commute time and mode preference (foot, bike, transit, car) on the web and with our updated iPhone app.

Australian Real Estate Opportunity

Australian real estate professionals can now use Walk Score to their advantage. Showcase your properties and market yourself as a local expert. Boost your home listings with neighbourhood information including nearby amenities and commute times.

Learn more about Walk Score for real estate professionals.

10 Tips to Advocate for Biking and Walkability

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Walk Score's walkability advocacy tipsWant to advocate for improved walking and biking infrastructure, but not sure how to start? Anywhere you live, there is likely to be a walking or biking non-profit ready to help you get involved or be a voice for change. From group bike rides to lobbying tools to encouraging kids to walk or bike more—a bevy of resources is at your fingertips.

Get started improving walking or biking routes in your area with these tools, tips, success stories and inspiring ideas.

  1. Do a neighborhood walkability audit. Use Walk Score’s iPhone app as organizing or grassroots vehicle for community or policy improvements (see how nonprofits used Walk Score for a walkability audit). Many community members and organizations take the grassroots approach to improving their neighborhoods. Join Walk Boston, for instance, and volunteer to document pedestrian problems by taking pictures and other activities. Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood locals rallied to take photos of sidewalk problems, broken pavement and overgrown shrubs to send it to the city of Seattle for fixes. Another active citizen used Walk Score tools to document barriers to walkability.
  2. Connect with local advocacy groups. The Alliance for Biking & Walking has assembled an impressive list of bicycling and walkability/pedestrian groups across the United States and Canada. Find your local advocacy non-profit group and learn how to get involved.
  3. Be a walking tour ambassador or join a group walk: Seattle’s Feet First has opportunities for walking ambassadors to lead public walks around neighborhoods across King County. Colorado’s Walk2Connect offers guided individual or group walks where you can learn about the land, meet new people and get fit.
  4. Advocate for better biking and walking infrastructure. New Orleans citizens and Bike Easy organization helped get biking and walking street and sidewalk improvements built into the Super Bowl transportation upgrades in 2013. See how biking and walking advocates won victory with increased biking lanes and pedestrian improvements in New Orleans.
  5. Rally and ride together: Bike San Diego offers opportunities for people to join a walk, bike and rally event to advocate for change, meet fellow people-powered enthusiasts and get outside (sans car).
  6. Snap photos of your missing effin’ sidewalk: Feet First Philly has a photo contest called “Where’s my effin’ sidewalk?” Share photos of obstacles for pedestrians and bikers across Philadelphia. A uniquely Philly-attitude-celebrated activity that could be replicated in other cities.
  7. Meet with professionals to discuss bike plans and make a difference: League of Illinois Bicyclists is hosting a Bike Summit on May 15 in the town of Normal, IL. Meet with more than 100 engineerings, planners, local bicycle advocates to discuss the state bike plan, how to overcome barriers to bicycling and more.
  8. Get kids walking and biking: Join Safe Routes to School local movements such as using League of Michigan Bicyclists education toolkits, safety tips and legislative advocacy support. Join a local walk to school effort with other parents and kids.
  9. Promote walking with wayfinding signs. Do it yourself. See how New York City introduced wayfinding signs to encourage walkers. There’s even a crowd-funding wayfinding venture started to build more wayfinding signs and the Atlantic labeled a Raleigh, North Carolina initiative “guerilla wayfinding.”
  10. Promote safety with crossing flags. Learn about DIY crossing flags for neighborhood intersections. Some companies like Key Bank support walkability grassroots efforts to keep streets safe—like this crossing flag set in a Seattle neighborhood.

More inspiration and success stories happen every week. Learn more about walkability. Get outside and get involved.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Walking

Sitting is the smoking of our generation, according to a Harvard Business Review article. Walking is the answer. A mountain of research brings this fact to light. Walking is a free, easy, low-impact way to combat adverse health effects of prolonged sitting, and so many other health ills. You don’t have to train for a marathon to combat unhealthy impacts of sitting. Just walk. It’s good for the body and mind.

“Walking is the closest thing to a magic bullet for health,” says Dr. Graham Colditz of Washington University School of Medicine. Put another way by Mayo Clinic obesity expert Dr. James Levine, “You don’t have to join a gym… You just have stop streaming Thursday Night Football, get off the sofa and go for a walk.”

1. Lose Weight by Living in a Walkable Neighborhood
Want a quick and easy way to lose weight? Find a walkable place to live. The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood. Neighborhoods with poor walkability are barriers to physical activity, while research shows people walk more if living in a walkable neighborhood.

Walkability impacts public health by “…affecting the relative convenience and viability of pedestrian travel and biking for both recreational and utilitarian (trip) purposes, and thus they influence the levels of physical activity,” reads a study from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Offset obesity by walking: A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people genetically prone to obesity can offset that tendency by walking. A brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the influence of obesity by half.

2. Walk to Combat Cancer
Women who walked 1 to 3 hours per week had risk of death from breast and uterine cancer reduced by 19%. When they walked 3 to 5 hours per week, their risks of the same cancers were reduced by 54%, according to a study by Harvard University.

Men who walk briskly for at least 3 hours a week after being diagnosed with prostate cancer were 57% less likely to see the disease progress.

3. Walk to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center writes, “An analysis of numerous studies on walking and heart disease concluded that the risk for developing heart disease decreases as the amount of walking increases.” Retired men who walk more than 1.5 miles per day had a significantly lower risk for heart disease (compared to men who walk less), according to a New England Journal of Medicine study. Walking at a moderate pace (3 to 4 miles per hour) for up to 3 hours each week (equates to 30 minutes a day) can cut women’s heart disease risk by 40%, according to a Harvard study.

4. Walk to Reduce Blood Pressure
A Korean Institute of Sport Science study proved a decrease in blood pressure in those who followed a walking exercise similar to the recommended 30 minutes per day, five times a week given by the American College of Sports Medicine.

5. Walk to Reduce Diabetes Risk
A New England Journal of Medicine study tied walking with reduced risk of diabetes. The study of more than 3,000 overweight adults found that walking 2.5 hours per week (along with a healthy diet) reduced the risk by 58% of getting diabetes. For overweight adults 60 years and older, the reduced risk was 71%.

6. Walk to Keep Arteries Unclogged
A Journal of the American College of Cardiology study found that exercise before a meal may help stem the effects of high-fat foods on blood vessel function. Walking is good for the heart and its arteries and vessels in many ways, including stemming build-up and clogging of arterial walls. Unclogged vessels and arteries keep blood circulating throughout the body, to organs and limbs.

7. Boost Mental Health by Walking
Many studies prove that exercise can improve mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Depression, a disease that afflicts 9% of the American adult population according to the Centers for Disease Control, is reduced by walking, an activity that replenishes endorphins that influence the feeling of well-being. Physical activity also boosts self-esteem and cognitive function, according to research in the National Institutes of Health.

Want more joy? Cities with good public transit and access to amenities promote happiness.

8. Walking Combats Arthritis and Strengthens Joints
Knee arthritis sufferers were able to increase the distance walked by 18% and gained nearly 40% boost in joint function after finishing an 8-week walking study. They also experienced significantly less pain and needed less medication after walking, based on research in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

9. Enjoy a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy doesn’t have to mean your health decreases. Walking just half an hour every day helps pregnant women prevent back pain, swelling, constipation and other pregnancy-related irritations and health conditions, according to research by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

10. Walk for a Healthy Brain
Walking regularly reduces brain atrophy and mental decline, resulting in a 50% reduction in risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia where thinking, memory and behavior deteriorate over time. This according to Rush University Medical Center research.

Seniors, take note: Exercise, including walking, in your 70s may stop brain shrinkage, a sign of aging linked to dementia, according to Edinburgh University research.

Tools that make it easy to live a healthy life:

  1. Move to a more walkable neighborhood.
  2. Discover places and nearby amenities within walking distance.
  3. Find a place to live where you can walk, bike or take public transit to commute or get around.
  4. Advocate for better walkability in your neighborhood.

Live in a walkable neighborhood to boost your health and prevent disease. Walkability matters. We have partnered with many researchers to explore the value of walkability. Find a place to live in a walkable neighborhood on Walk Score.