Currently Reading

Links Between Neighborhood Type and Health


Links Between Neighborhood Type and Health

A recent study examines how four common neighborhood designs affect residents’ physical activity habits and mental wellness

By Mike Chamernik, Associate Editor May 1, 2017
View of city street with trees
A report examines how four common neighborhood design affect residents’ physical activity habits and mental wellness. 
This article first appeared in the May 2017 issue of Pro Builder.

A new study finds that trees are a key factor in how neighborhoods affect residents’ health. 

A group led by Adriana Zuniga-Teran, a postdoctoral research associate in the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, wrote a journal entry titled “Neighborhood Design, Physical Activity, and Wellbeing: Applying the Walkability Model.” 

Based on a survey of 380 people in Tucson, Ariz., the report examines how four common neighborhood designs—traditional developments, suburban developments, gated communities, and cluster housing—affect residents’ physical activity habits and mental wellness. 

Zuniga-Teran surveyed residents of each of the four styles of neighborhood. Respondents were asked about the prevalence of local crime, their walking routines, their interactions with neighbors, and the amount of green space in their community. 

Residents of low-density suburban developments were found to have the highest levels of mental well-being. Even with the annoyances of suburbia (long commutes, reliance on automobiles, and a lessened sense of community), the group benefits from local green spaces. Zuniga-Teran said that large lots and trees buffer noise, lower stress, and provide a level of privacy and security.

Cluster housing, such as townhome communities, gain the same advantages from green spaces. Since homes are packed in tight, residents also have greater connection with their neighbors and their community. They talk more and feel a stronger sense of safety.

People did the most walking, both for recreation and transportation, if they lived in mixed-use traditional neighborhoods where homes are situated on an urban grid with nearby stores, restaurants, and other necessities and attractions. But, Zuniga-Teran found that residents of traditional neighborhoods had higher perceptions of crime, in part due to exposed trash, litter, and graffiti.

Gated communities didn’t score well in any particular category. “They did not score the highest in anything, not even perceived safety, which is kind of odd because they close themselves out for safety reasons,” Zuniga-Teran said in a statement.

Trees were the common thread for well-being. Zuniga-Teran said that more trees lead to a higher perception of safety, contribute to a better walking experience, and foster interaction between neighbors.


Related Stories


How We Can Reinvent Home Building to Meet Current Challenges and Future Needs

The pandemic rocked traditional rules and roles for work and home and reset expectations. Now it’s time for fresh solutions in home building


From Infill Lot to Urban Oasis: Home Design That Maximizes a Compact Site

Elevated creativity makes the most of a tiny tree-filled lot to create a light-filled, modern farmhouse in this award-winning design in Austin


Home Design That Differentiates

Shifting consumer attitudes and lifestyle needs demand new thinking in home builders' approach to designing homes


Top Articles


More in Category

COVID-19 may be easing its grip on the U.S. after a disastrous two years, but lingering supply chain disruptions have builders holding onto their pandemic business tactics

An archive of NHQA-winning companies that represent home building's best in Total Quality Management

Don’t let the current hype about single-family B2R communities obscure the need to create long-term sustainability and asset value


Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.