I just came across a very interesting article in the Chicago Sun-Times. Apparently, the neighborhood you’re living in could be making you sick. Health experts are saying that neighborhoods are helping to contribute to ADD, high blood pressure, obesity, lung disease, and more. And what’s the reason behind this? That we’re forced to drive everywhere and we’re not doing enough physical activity. Sure, it makes sense. Those that live in subdivisions in the suburbs rather than out in the city where it’s easy to walk everywhere can often experience this. There’s not a place to eat, or grocery shop, or park that’s within walking distance. So we’re forced to drive.
According to the article, back in 1986, the average person whose height was 5’4″ was less than 10% overweight. That same person in 2007 was 20 to 24% overweight. Newer neighborhoods being built are less likely to have intersecting streets that take you to the area school or park. They just have long and winding streets that spit you out back where you started.
Dr. Richard Jackson is chairman of the environmental Health Sciences Department at UCLA and co-author of Urban Sprawl and Public Health. He says that an average mother today spends 75 minutes of her day chauffeuring her children around, whether it be to school, soccer practice, the doctor, etc. And he says the more time we spend in the car, the fatter we become.
So this information is very interesting if you’re in the market for a new home. If you’d like to walk your children to school, consider the entire neighborhood before placing an offer. Is the school within walking distance? Is there a park nearby? Maybe you’re looking for an area that has a downtown area within walking distance, such as Highland Park, Long Grove, or even Antioch. The new homes in The Glen in Glenview have shops, movies, and restaurants right there. Same with Arlington Heights. They’re like mini-downtowns.
If you have no plans to move, the article suggests some steps you can take to help the neighborhood:
1. Start parking cars along the street instead of only in the garage and driveways. Make sure your neighborhood doesn’t have a ban on leaving cars out overnight. Narrower roads lead to slower-moving traffic which can definitely help if there’s kids around.
2. See if you can add marked bike lanes in your area. Meanwhile, make sure if you’re out riding to wear a helmet for protection. No matter how safe you are, you can’t rely on what the cars or other riders are doing.
3. Walk to a destination that is less than a mile away. I have clients who discovered there was miles of forest preserve practically in their backyard. They take their baby in the stroller for long walks in the summer. Have dogs? Try to walk them around daily. You’ll get your exercise and they’ll love it, too.
Have a safe and healthy weekend! Please be sure to visit my Web site at http://www.noahseidenberg.com.