Walkable, livable communities provide many health benefits.
People living closer to shops, schools and work can spend less time in their cars and more time walking and biking. Instead of paying to go to the gym for regular exercise, physical activity is built into their daily lives.
Communities with well-planned parks, sidewalk systems, bike trails, greenways, and other natural amenities can help address obesity, diabetes, heart disease, attention disorders and depression in children and adults alike.
Such communities are also more supportive of Americans who can’t drive or don’t have access to cars—including older residents and children.
Walking and biking, and visiting nearby parks, shops and restaurants also provide important social and mental health benefits as residents may have more opportunities to interact with each other.
Check out the CDC’s new 2016 report, A Sustainability Planning Guide for Healthy Communities. According to the CDC, this guide “is a synthesis of science- and practice-based evidence designed to help coalitions, public health professionals, and other community stakeholders develop, implement, and evaluate a successful sustainability plan.”
Florida public health:
Florida county health rankings and roadmap – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute ranked the health of nearly every county in the nation and identified steps to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.
Florida walk score – This study finds the most walkable cities in Florida are Miami Beach, Miami and North Miami Beach, while the least walkable are The Acreage, Poinciana, and Lehigh Acres.
Bridging the gap between public health and urban planning – The Florida Department of Health prepared this Macromedia Presentation outlining urban planning strategies to address public health issues.
Smart growth principles and public health – This Macromedia Presentation by the Florida Department of Health provides an overview of the linkages between smart growth and public health in Florida.
Adopted health elements and plans:
Alachua County community health element (2011) – The goal of this element is to preserve the health of Alachua County residents by facilitating health care delivery, improving the livability of the community, and providing all Alachua County residents opportunities for active living.
Miami-Dade community health and design element (2011) – Adopted into the comprehensive plan in 2011, this element is intended to provide the framework for building better communities that promote healthier lifestyles.
Hillsborough County livable communities element (2008) – This element contains Community and Special Area Studies that are meant to portray a vision for the future, with specific recommendations on issues in a particular area of the county.
Healthy planning: An evaluation of comprehensive and sustainability plans addressing public health (2012) – As a follow up to its 2011 survey, the American Planning Association evaluated comprehensive and sustainability plans from around the nation.
Comprehensive planning for public health: Results of the planning and community health research center survey (2011) – Prepared by the American Planning Association, this report highlights the results of a web-based survey used to identify draft and adopted comprehensive and sustainability plans that explicitly address public health.
Promoting active transportation: An opportunity for public health – This primer gives an orientation as to why and how health should be considered in transportation planning and decision making.
Healthy community design – In this streaming video by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Howard Frumkin discusses the benefits of walkable communities as they relate to health, the environment and social interaction.
Healthy community design – This downloadable PowerPoint Presentation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an overview of how community design can affect public health.
Healthy development checklist – Developed by Walkable Communities, this checklist includes factors to determine whether a development promotes healthier lifestyles.
Transportation and health toolkit – This web-based tool kit is designed to build a bridge between the transportation and health communities.
Integrating health into comprehensive planning (2007) – This University of Minnesota report includes a sample matrix for examining links between comprehensive planning and health.
Public health in land use planning and community design – The National Association of County and City Health Officials and the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado developed this checklist to assist local public health agencies (LPHAs) in their review of applications for new development or redevelopment plans.
Road traffic noise: Annoyance, sleep disturbance, and public health implications (2012) – This research predicted ambient levels of road traffic noise for a highly urbanized area, focusing on annoyance and sleep disturbance.
Measuring the health effects of sprawl (2003) – Residents of sprawling counties are more likely to be obese or have high blood pressure, and that the increased risk is associated with living in auto-oriented areas that suppress walking. Florida residents in outlying Nassau and Clay counties in the Jacksonville metro area and Hernando County in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area are more likely to have hypertension and be obese than residents in the more urbanized Dade (Miami), Broward (Fort Lauderdale), Pinellas (St. Petersburg), Orange (Orlando), Duval (Jacksonville), and Hillsborough (Tampa) counties.
Measuring sprawl and its impact (2002) – People who live in more sprawling places drive more, face a greater risk of dying in a traffic crash, and breathe more polluted air than people in less sprawling areas, according to this report, which uses a sophisticated sprawl measure created by Rutgers and Cornell Universities. Florida metropolitan areas included West Palm Beach/Boca Raton/Delray Beach (6), Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater (22), Jacksonville (28), Orlando (40), Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood/Pompano Beach (55) and Miami/Hialeah (75).