Take a walk: There are plenty of good reasons why this piece of advice is doled out time and time again to people who might feel stressed, sad, or in need of some fresh air. Spending just five minutes a day outside can have a major impact on your mood, and hitting your daily step goal can improve your sleep. Now a new study from Washington State University also shows that people who live in walkable neighborhoods have an increased chance of living to their 100th birthday.
This is great news for those who already live in especially walkable cities, like New York, San Francisco, and Boston. But it’s also possible to find a neighborhood that’s easy to navigate without a car no matter where you live. Here, Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty shares her tips for finding a home that’s pedestrian friendly.
When you’re looking at a home, take out your phone and search for all the amenities you might want in walking distance: pharmacies, coffee shops, post office, parks, and even grocery stores. “If the closest coffee shop is 20 minutes away, you might not walk there very often,” says Chiaramonte. “But if it’s just 10 minutes away, it might become part of your daily routine.” In a city, you should also consider the distance to the nearest form of public transportation.
Once you’ve found a coffee shop or park that interests you, go there yourself—this will help you to assess not just how long it takes to get there by foot but also how strenuous the walk is. “If you’re going up a hill, even if your destination is just four or five minutes away, it will feel very different than a flat stroll,” says Chiaramonte. That also means making sure that short walks don’t involve going along a highway or navigating impossibly narrow stretches of sidewalk.
Be realistic: How often do you imagine yourself navigating a certain path and when do you imagine doing so? “Would you be comfortable walking it at both 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.?” says Chiaramonte. “It’s not just about distance—it’s also about how pleasant it is.” The more invigorating or comforting your scenery, the more likely you are to take advantage of a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood—and that can do you some good.
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