07:06am Tuesday 12 December 2017

Moving to a walking neighborhood is good for your blood pressure

Study Highlights: 

  • People who moved from a neighborhood that required a vehicle to run errands to one that made walking-errands convenient were significantly less likely to have high blood pressure than people who moved from one low-walkability neighborhood to another low-walkability neighborhood
  • Specifically, people who moved to a highly walkable neighborhood had a 54 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those who moved to a more car-dependent neighborhood over 10 years of follow up.

This release contains updated information from the abstract

ORLANDO, Florida  — People who moved from a neighborhood that required a vehicle to run errands to one that made walking-errands convenient were significantly less likely to have high blood pressure than people who moved from one low-walkability neighborhood to another low-walkability neighborhood, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

To determine a neighborhood’s walking friendliness, researchers used Walk Score®, which rates neighborhoods from 1 to 100 for accessibility by foot to stores, parks, schools and other destinations. “Walker’s Paradise” neighborhoods received a score of 90 or greater. Walk Score® is an open-access walkability index available at www.walkscore.com.

This is the first study to determine whether moving to a walking-friendly neighborhood affected 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 in Ontario, Canada. Blood-pressure data was obtained from linked health administrative databases held and analyzed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and patients were monitored for up to 10 years.  

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.

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. Studies show that an active lifestyle can help reduce the risk of all three of these diseases. For most healthy adults, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination of both) each week as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle called  My Life CheckTM- Life’s Simple 7.

“We need to set people up for success by making walking instead of driving the more convenient and enjoyable choice,” said lead author Maria Chiu, M.Sc, Ph.D, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. “Urban planners and policymakers can do their part by designing neighborhoods that are more pedestrian-friendly.”  

Researchers noted that they did not have detailed dietary data other than fruit and vegetable consumption, which could affect blood pressure.

Co-authors are Mohammad-Reza Rezai, M.D., Ph.D.; Laura C. Maclagan, M.Sc.; Peter C. Austin, Ph.D.; Baiju R. Shah, M.D., Ph.D.; Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D.; and Jack V. Tu, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded the study.

Note: Actual presentation time of Abstract 134 is 4:15 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015.

Additional Resources:

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Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries and AHA Spokesperson Perspective:

AHA News Media in Dallas: (214) 706-1173

AHA News Media Office, Nov. 7-11, 2015

at the Orange County Convention Center: (407) 685-5401

For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org

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