These days when most people lead busy working lives, finding time to get fit and lead a healthy life can be a task in itself. But according to a recent study, all you need is a house in a neighbourhood with markets, public transport stops and parks.

Researchers at University of California, US studied daily activity of over 6,800 people and correlated it to where they live. “Neighborhoods with high residential density tend to have connected streets, shops and services meaning people will be more likely to walk to their local shops,” James Sallis, lead author of the study, is quoted as saying in an IANS report.

“Interestingly, distance to nearest transport stop was not associated with higher levels of physical activity, whereas the number of nearby transport stops was,” Sallis added in a paper published first in the journal The Lancet. 6,822 adults between the ages of 18 and 66 were surveyed to understand what characteristics their neighborhoods had. Then their daily physical activity was recorded in detail through the use of accelerometers placed around their waists for four days.

On average, the participants did activity that was equal or more to a brisk walk for 37 minutes per day, however, there was a difference of 68-89 minutes per week in the activity time of people who lived in active neighborhoods to those who didn’t. This is a up between 45 and 59 percent of the daily recommended number, and indicates that staying in an active neighbourhood with access to parks, public transport stops and markets should be preferable. As we all know sedentary lifestyle leads to a host of diseases including diabetes and heart conditions. So the need of the hour is to provide urban residents some relief in the form of parks, and better and safer public transport to counter the rapid concretisation of open spaces.

That’s something Shifalika Goenka from Public Health Foundation of India agrees with. “We need interventions to counter the rapidly growing inactivity that urbanisation leads to, by providing environments that change the way we live our daily lives,” she is quoted as saying in the report.

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