Healthy Communities Add to Longevity and Bliss

Walkable Communities

Times are “a changing”, especially when it comes to finding the perfect place to build or buy a home in today's market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently revealed how folks of all ages today depend on a number of factors directly related to overall well-being when choosing which neighborhood and area to purchase in.

The priorities are based on living a quality life with natural surroundings, access to walking paths, bicycle friendly communities, community gardens, farmer’s markets and community parks are all desired components when it comes to choosing the ideal spot to live.  Developers have taken note and are creating living spaces that accommodate the desire to live a healthy and more fulfilling lifestyle.  It is the way of the future and many new neighborhoods are now providing the amenities that satisfy those needs.

Sedentary lifestyles are becoming a thing of the past thanks to the numerous grass-root organizations that have surfaced over the last decade.   With the oversight of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) new initiatives creating environments that prevent disease and injury have become a priority in living spaces, one such focus evolves around increased physical activity.  The Healthy Community Design organization within the CDC structure advocates a relationship between the environment and public health and that relationship is being reflected in the choice of walkable and bicycle friendly communities available today.

Healthy eating is another factor that contributes to the core value of well-being and the growth of “farm-to-market” food choices is another piece of the formula in the transition away from obesity in favor of longevity especially those approaching retirement years.   The good news for home shoppers is that communities have kept pace with the current trends and neighborhoods now offer all-inclusive living packages that are geared to provide green space, walking, biking and hiking trails, waterfront properties, workout facilities, outdoor recreation and community gardens that are incorporated within natural surroundings leading to a more fruitful living experience sought by today’s real estate market.

When seeking the ideal location, take the time to experience the lifestyle offered before choosing a specific property.  We have visited and reviewed many communities who offer superb healthy and wellness amenities.  It’s not just about curb appeal anymore, it’s about how the communities have evolved to accommodate current needs.  Large paved tree-lined walkways are being designed to encourage foot traffic linking neighborhoods to golf courses, tennis courts, local farmer’s markets, on-site workout facilities, organic restaurants, gourmet groceries and retail spaces to allow free range of movement with the added value of convenience.  Active folks enjoy exploring natural surroundings and breathing fresh air while running errands, exercising outdoors and visiting with friends.  Just getting an hour of walking daily burns 120 to 140 calories (for 130 lb. person) and improves muscle tone, cardiovascular health and adds an overall sense of well-being.  Plus, it’s free!

We have found that some of the most-sought after homesites are those that incorporate preserved green space with eco-friendly architectural designs.  Miles and miles of walking and hiking trails are being set aside in communities to allow residents to explore natural terrain, stroll along free-flowing streams, and connect with the environment.  Properties that also feature community parks, fishing ponds, community gardens and first-class amenities that encourage wellness.   

Abandoned railways and highways are being transformed into scenic walking and biking paths that provide additional exercise options for communities to enjoy such as the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville South Carolina.  Another great example of this type of transformation can be found in the historical town of Beaufort, South Carolina located in the Sea Islands.  Here residents can explore the majestic landscaping of the preserved marshlands, waterfront parks and wildlife found along the Spanish Moss Trail.  The 12-foot wide pathway is over 9 miles of picturesque trails that meander along waterways creating the ideal spot to explore nature, get quality exercise and reduce stress.  Once occupied by the historic Magnolia Line Railroad, the 14-mile easement was retained by the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority who has transformed this amazing recreational trail.  This is just one of many popping up country-wide.

The favored mode of transportation is evolving too.  People are quickly replacing 4 wheels for 2 as they discover that bicycling is not just for kids anymore.  Bike paths are seen everywhere in the country and there is a reason why.   Demand for a safe place to ride has become a priority for “bicycle friendly” communities that have popped up across the world.  Greenways are quickly replacing highways as avid bikers decide that cars are no longer the only option.  Bicycling is a superb choice for getting in shape.  It strengthens leg muscles, improves joint mobility, increases cardiovascular health and stamina, reduces depression and stress and allows a sense of freedom by getting out on the open road and enjoying the scenery. Hilton Head Island has an exciting bicycle trail system around the majority of the island. 

Cities are becoming more connected by routes that are built in natural surroundings along waterways with lush topography to encourage folks to become more active and connected with the environment.  Many towns now offer bike rental programs, bike shares, bike racks and safer bike lanes to accommodate the lifestyle of 2-wheelers.  Biking trails through communities have become the norm and paths have been created to allow residents to move freely through neighborhoods without the concerns of safety.  The trend is spreading nation-wide and the impact is lower pollution, more savings and better health. Nashville's Greenways is an excellent example of this design.

According to the CDC, the state of Tennessee has one of the highest obesity rates in the country.  In an effort to curb statistics, the city of Nashville has taken affirmative action.   Nashville has a program called “GreenBikes” which is a free share a bike program that facilitates exploration of parks, greenways and city streets.  “GreenBikes” locations are directly linked to 94 miles of greenways and 133 miles of on-road bike lanes and shared-use bike routes. The goal of this progressive movement is that every resident has access to the bike paths within a 2-mile radius.  This vision has become reality and home developers have responded by creating neighborhoods that connect to these healthy community-based resources not just in Nashville but in cities and towns across the country.

Another component that adds to living longer is healthy eating.  The trend for community gardens and local farmer’s markets has grown dramatically in the last decade as individuals make dietary changes that include fresh organically grown fruits and veggies.  Society has become obsessed with the need to have and grow their own produce.  Urban gardens within city limits and on-site community gardens are now the norm for master planned communities.  Gardening clubs are highly popular and are a great way to eat better food choices while connecting with fellow residents.  Cooking classes are also an added benefit of living in health-conscious communities that have access to fresh organic produce.  Many of the on-site restaurants now feature “farm-to-table” regional dishes that parallel the desire to slim down and get away from the “fast food” dilemma that has created obesity and chronic diseases.

Community parks have also been found as a key element when it comes to a place to call home.  Preserved green spaces, towering trees, ponds, streams and lakes add beauty and a sense of calm which are becoming standard for premier housing developments.  Outdoor recreation is another benefit of living near water.  Fishing, boating, swimming or relaxing while watching a glorious sunset reduces anxiety and stress and provides the perfect escape from everyday life.   The preservation of wildlife species adds to the overall experience and has become a top priority for home builders today.  Watching exotic birds flying overhead or deer frolicking within the perimeter of the property is priceless when selecting the ideal spot to build a home.

The trend for walkable and bicycle friendly communities is a positive direction for folks of all ages and for the environment.  Living longer and healthier is the way of the future and developers are responding with fantastic well-designed communities that offer it all.  Besides the walking and biking paths, community gardens, farmer’s markets, and community parks, there are tennis and pickleball courts, comprehensive fitness centers, all types of swimming pools, and active social calendars to insure that every day is a new adventure waiting. 

Stay healthy, stay connected and love where you live. If you'd like some help finding the right community for you, fill out our Community Matchmaker Questionnaire and we'll promptly send you back a list of suggestions. 

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