Women Who Walk: Study Looks at the Impact of Neighborhood Design

Researchers at Cornell University College of Human Ecology examined walking patterns of women moving into neighborhoods designed following new urbanism principles and women moving into traditional suburban neighborhoods. They also determined aspects of neighborhood design that predict walking patterns.

This project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Active Living Research program. The program funds research that improves knowledge and policies regarding ways that environmental factors affect physical activity, particularly for children.

Key Findings

  • Women who moved to new urbanist neighborhoods did not walk significantly more than women who moved to traditional suburban neighborhoods.
  • Women who moved to neighborhoods with fewer cul de sacs walked more after they moved than they had prior to their move.
  • Demographic characteristics such as prior walking patterns, race and household size were significant predictors of walking patterns post-move. Neighborhood design characteristics accounted for 16.2 percent of change in walking patterns.