A study of the link between city walkability and blood pressure, the largest ever conducted, has been held up as evidence of the “intangible value of urban design” in improving long-term health outcomes, said researchers.
The study of about 430,000 people aged between 38 and 73 and living in 22 British cities found significant links between a neighbourhood’s increased walkability, lower blood pressure and reduced hypertension risk among its residents.
The outcomes were consistent even after adjustments for socio-demographic, lifestyle and physical environment variables, though the protective effects were particularly pronounced among participants aged between 50 and 60, women, and those residing in higher density and deprived neighbourhoods.
The paper was published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health last week.
With hypertension a major risk factor for chronic and particularly cardiovascular diseases, researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Oxford University said the findings demonstrated the need for public health interventions to factor in urban design.