Simply moving from a neighborhood in which a car is necessary to run errands to one in which they can be accomplished on foot may lower blood pressure risk by more than 50 percent, a new study finds.
High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for heart disease -- the leading cause of death in the United States -- and for stroke, which is the fifth-leading cause of death.
Since studies show that an active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of all three of these diseases, researchers wanted to find out if simply moved from a low-walkability neighborhood to one in which a vehicle is less needed could reduce blood pressure.
Researchers compared 1,057 pairs of adults from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2001 to 2010), who moved from a low walkability neighborhood to either a high walkability or another low walkability neighborhood.
The neighborhood’s walkability was determined by using a standardized score card that provides ratings from one to 100 for accessibility by foot to stores, parks, schools and other destinations.
Researchers found that people who moved to a walking-friendly neighborhood had a 54 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than people who left one walking-unfriendly neighborhood for another.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s 2015 Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Fla.
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