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6 Characteristics to Look for When Choosing a Healthy Neighborhood

How to Find a Healthy Neighborhood
Brittany Wren
Written by Brittany Wren

Research points to a much more natural way to maintain a healthy lifestyle

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Living a healthier lifestyle is easier said than done for most women. You have probably bought cute “workout” clothes that ended up being Netflix binging clothes. You swore off ice cream FOREVER, which turned out to be one weekend. You dragged a friend to go for a run after work, which morphed into a gab session and happy hour.

Living life in a healthy way can feel like a mutually exclusive task. Fortunately, recent research points to a much more natural way to maintain a healthy lifestyle: live in a healthy neighborhood. Here’s what to look for when shopping for your next home’s location.

1. Grocery Stores

If you live near a grocery store, you have easy access to fresh produce, which has been linked to lower obesity rates. In fact, a multistate study has found that only one additional grocery store in a census tract can increase produce consumption among residents by 32 percent, according to PolicyLink.org. So not only will you eat more peas and carrots, you’ll also be more likely to walk to the store to buy them in the first place. Win, win.

2. Parks

You are more likely to engage in an active lifestyle if your neighborhood includes resources for exercise and recreation, like parks and playgrounds. The National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences reports that living near green spaces can decrease mortality. Plus, parks and playgrounds increase social interaction and mental health while the vegetation helps decrease stress and exposure to harmful pollutants.

3. Sidewalks

A neighborhood with a network of sidewalks that are in good condition is a neighborhood that encourages walking. In fact, a survey commissioned by Kaiser Permanente indicates that people who live in a more walkable neighborhood — characterized by good sidewalks, low crime and safe traffic — walk more. Sidewalks with well-connected streets, smaller blocks and more intersections also encourage more activity because you can walk to your destination along routes that are shorter, quieter and more direct.

4. Bike Paths

Let’s face it: the stationary bike you received for Christmas last year is collecting dust in the basement next to your snowboard and your old high school yearbooks. (It’s OK, it happens to the best of us.) But imagine driving home after work and seeing your neighbor pop off her bike after a brisk ride home, all energetic and peaceful. Seeing others bike to and from work may inspire you to do the same, and living near a great network of bike paths will certainly make you more likely to give it a try.

5. Gyms

Not everyone can find the time or muster enough love for the outdoors to make walking a successful exercise regimen. For more structured indoor activity, search for neighborhoods near a gym that offers fun group fitness classes like Zumba. A gym like 24 Hour Fitness is a great solution because it provides a variety of group fitness classes to all members at no additional fee.

6. Community Services

Public gathering places that serve the community, like a local restaurant or library, foster good emotional health by encouraging feelings of mutual trust and connectedness among neighbors. Research shows that children who grow up in close-knit neighborhoods are more likely to be influenced by multiple adults, which makes them less likely to engage in smoking, drinking, drug use or gangs. Plus, a neighborhood with these services within walking distance encourages (yep, you guessed it) more walking.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I can’t do it all, and that’s okay. I don’t have to have a great career, a perfect house, good health, interesting hobbies, and fulfilling relationships with those I love. There’s just not enough time in the day, and if something has to give, it better not be my relationships.

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

Simplicity. Not needing to live in a big city to be entertained, or to own a new home to be comfortable.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

Learning to speak Spanish. I was always good at writing and reading Spanish when I was in high school and college, but I always really struggled with the oral skills. After living for a year in Peru as an English-teacher, I became close friends with people who only spoke Spanish to me. By the end of the year, people I met thought I was a native speaker.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

Definitely my obsessive need for order and predictability. I plan ahead for everything. Sometimes before going to a social event, I even practice potential conversations in my head.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my strategic brain. I love my imagination. It comes in handy when I need to solve a problem, or when I’m imagining what my house could look like in 20 years.

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About the author

Brittany Wren

Brittany Wren

Brittany Wren works in higher education. She’s all about backpacking, traveling, poetry and good coffee. On the weekend, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book or working on (a seemingly endless supply of) house projects in her 100-year-old home.

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