Like Your Neighborhood? What It Means For Your Physical Health

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NEIGHBORHOOD HEALTH
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Are you a fan of your neighborhood? The answer could say a lot about your health, according to a new report.

Gallup researchers found that people who like their community, or who think that their community is improving, report better physical health than people who don't like their community or think that their community is deteriorating in terms of livability.

"These findings provide support for the ecological model of health, which suggests that one's living conditions, community safety, community development, and civic engagement, among other factors, affect community members' health outcomes," the researchers wrote in the report. "The relationship between community-level perspectives and physical health may have significant implications for urban planning and community improvement efforts, particularly in light of the increase in cardiovascular disease and obesity over the past decade."

The findings are based on telephone surveys of 353,492 people ages 18 and older throughout the United States, who were surveyed between Jan. 2 and Dec. 29 last year.

Overall, people who said that they were satisfied with their area of residence scored a 78 on the physical health index, compared with 69.1 by people who said they were dissatisfied with their area of residence. And people who said that their area of residence was getting better scored a 79.5 overall on the index, compared with people who said their area of residence was getting worse, who scored a 70.9 overall.

On a more granular level, fewer people who said they were satisfied with their cities reported specific health-related issues than those who said they are dissatisfied -- even when taking into account influential factors like income, education and ethnicity, researchers found.

Among some of the findings:

- Twenty-two percent of satisfied people reported having physical pain the day before, compared with 34 percent of dissatisfied people.

- Twenty percent of satisfied people said they had health problems, compared with 29 percent of dissatisfied people.

- Seventy-three percent of satisfied people said that they are well-rested, compared with 57 percent of dissatisfied people.

- Eighty-seven percent of satisfied people said that they had enough energy the day before, compared with 76 percent of dissatisfied people.

- Twenty-six percent of satisfied people reported high cholesterol, compared with 25 percent of dissatisfied people.

- Twenty-six percent of satisfied people were obese, compared with 29 percent of dissatisfied people.

And researchers found a link between physical health and feeling safe to exercise or feeling safe being alone at night in the area where you live.

Recently, a study in the journal Diabetes Care showed a link between the walkability of a neighborhood and a person's risk of developing diabetes.

The researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences found that people who live in not-so-walkable neighborhoods have about a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes compared with people who live in walkable neighborhoods.

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