There is no doubt that exercise, even moderate exercise, has a health impact. A study presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Session illustrated the impact of walking on diabetes by comparing the rate of diabetes in walkable areas in southern Ontario vs areas with less sprawl and determined that the rate of diabetes was substantially lower in the walkable areas.
A second study which compared overall neighborhoods found that the most walkable neighborhoods had the lowest incidence of obesity, overweight and diabetes.
“How we build our cities matters in terms of our overall health,” said lead researcher Gillian Booth, MD, Endocrinologist and Research Scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto. “This is one piece of a puzzle that we can potentially do something about. As a society, we have engineered physical activity out of our lives. Every opportunity to walk, to get outside, to go to the corner store or walk our children to school can have a big impact on our risk for diabetes and becoming overweight.”
Another study which compared the diabetes rates in Toronto Canada residents determined that people living in neighborhoods that are not conducive to walking have a a 33% greater risk of developing diabetes or developing obesity.
“Although diabetes can be prevented through physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss, we determined the environment in which one lives is also an important indicator of one’s risk,” said Dr. Gillian Booth, an endocrinologist and researcher with St. Michael’s Hospital and co-author of the study.
American Diabetes Association. “Do ‘walkable’ neighborhoods reduce obesity, diabetes? Yes, research suggests.
Richard H. Glazier, Maria I. Creatore, Jonathan T. Weyman, Ghazal Fazli, Flora I. Matheson, Peter Gozdyra, Rahim Moineddin, Vered Kaufman Shriqui, Gillian L. Booth. Density, Destinations or Both? A Comparison of Measures of Walkability in Relation to Transportation Behaviors, Obesity and Diabetes in Toronto, Canada. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e85295 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085295