Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Staying Active Hinges on Where You Live and Walking Distances

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Staying Active Hinges on Where You Live and Walking Distances

Article excerpt

Byline: Carolyn Boyd

IF YOU want to keep active with everyday exercise, it's best to pick an area where you can walk to some of the conveniences you need, such as shops, doctors, public transport and parks, according to an academic.

C[pounds sterling]There's a thing which is sort of like a circle for pedestrian accessibility, if you like,C[yen] University of NSW associate professor Susan Thompson said.

C[pounds sterling]It's a rule of thumb ... if you're located within 400 metres of all the sorts of things that you need then you'll be encouraged to walk.

C[pounds sterling]But 400 metres, it's not much at all; other (urban planning experts) talk about 800 metres Co and then obviously going out to a kilometre.C[yen]

Urban planners regarded 400 metres as a notional five-minute walk and 800 metres as taking about 10 minutes.

If you were considering buying a property, Thompson suggested walking around the neighbourhood first C[pounds sterling]just to really have a good look at how easy it isC[yen].

Factors to consider were: Did it feel safe, was the local area comfortable to walk around, were some essential services close enough and were there cues in the environment that made you feel like you belonged?

Another element to explore was whether there were good public amenities such as benches and public toilets Co handy for long walks.

C[pounds sterling]Parks are really important and even just being able to view a green space and trees, there's a lot of research that indicates that's really important for us (health-wise),C[yen] Ms Thompson, who is the co-director of the Healthy Built Environments Program at UNSW's City Futures Research Centre, said.

Public transport could be vital to providing independence, as well as keeping people healthy, by allowing more opportunities to get out and about that didn't depend on driving.

C[pounds sterling]If you can get to public transport then you're in a better position to be able to access things that are further away,C[yen] Ms Thompson said.

"And when you do use public transport, you engage in more incidental physical activity."

Staying active was like taking a daily preventative. …

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