There has been a lot of talk about walkable neighbourhoods becoming more popular as gas prices continue to increase. In the September 2008 American Journal of Preventative Medicine there will be a Utah based study showing a link between walkable neighbourhoods and body weight.
" The authors found an association between people with lower body mass and older neighborhoods — generally built before most residents owned cars. “Adding a decade to the average age of neighborhood housing decreases women’s risk of obesity by 8 percent and men’s by 13 percent,” they wrote. "
I note that a previous study published in the same journal in April 2008 entitled Neighborhood Design and Walking: A Quasi-Experimental Longitudinal Study concluded that it might not automatically follow that those living in an older neighbourhood will ALWAYS tend to walk more. Much had to do with the healthiness of the neighbourhood itself. Design considerations like street patterns, the mix of zoning to allow for commercial and residential to be in close proximity to each other, a healthy mix of businesses and services etc. also were major factors.
On Go For Your Life, an Australian government site to promote healthy living I found an interesting powerpoint that includes items from past studies such as "Every additional kilometre walked translates into a 4.8% reduction in the likelihood of being obese" (Andersen)
I consider my neighbourhood to have the best of both of these studies. It's for the most part pedestrian friendly with sidewalks, front porches and the like. I also am happy to say that pretty much all of the services I need from banking and groceries to insurance agents and a drugstore are all within a few minute walk.
I look forward to keeping a little healthier as I grow old here !