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Texas A&M study finds ‘walkable’ communities improve health
Erin Mulvaney | BeyondChron


Rendering of a walkable community Beacon Island in League City.

Want to be healthy? Like your neighbors? Drive less? A recent study from Texas A&M University suggests a “walkable” community means less driving, more physical activity and social interactions result when people live in a “pedestrian-oriented, activity-friendly development.”


These types of communities, the study’s authors conclude, could be considered “preventative” health care.


In “A Retrospective Study on Changes in Residents’ Physical Activities, Social Interactions, and Neighborhood Cohesion After Moving to a Walkable Community,” lead researcher A&M architecture professor Xuemei Zhu and co-authors Chanam Lee, professor of landscape architecture, Zhipeng Lu, architecture lecturer, George Mann, professor of architecture, and Ph.D. candidate Chia-Yuan Yu, studied a transit-oriented development called Mueller.


The Austin-area planned development Mueller has a mix of high-density residences and small businesses, 140 acres of parks, 13 miles of hike and bike paths and sidewalks lining interconnected streets. It also have 25 percent affordable housing units mixed with market-rate units. The researchers used data from 449 surveys of Mueller residents, asking about their physical activity and sense of community compared to previous residences.  Most were from Austin before moving to the community.


The study found that 40 percent of the residents increased walking of biking after moving to the community, 65 percent noted an increase in physical activity and 48 percent reported improved health.