WINNIPEG – Cities that build safe and easy-to-access paths for walking, running and cycling can improve the heart health of residents who live nearby, a study led by the University of Manitoba suggests.
The study looked at four multi-use paths that were built in Winnipeg between 2010 and 2012 in neighbourhoods that were already largely established. It examined provincial health data covering several years before and after, and found that after the trails were built, people who lived within 400 metres of the paths had lower rates of risks to cardiovascular health such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
In essence, one of the study’s authors said, people are more likely to go for a walk, run or bike ride — and maybe ditch the car for a commute — if you give them dedicated space away from vehicle traffic to do so.
“More and more people are living in urban centres, and we’re really interested in understanding which aspects of the environments that we build in these centres have health-promoting potential,” said Jon McGavock, a professor of pediatrics and child health at the university who is also an investigator with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.
The study relied on the city’s electronic counters along the paths and found that the busier the path, the greater the reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
Overall, areas within 400 metres of the paths saw an eight per cent reduction in those factors. Near the Bishop Grandin Greenway — the busiest of the four paths — […]