Heart Healthy Neighborhoods

Heart Healthy Neighborhoods

Living in a friendly neighborhood may be good for your heart, according to a recent study by psychologists at the University of Michigan. In fact, the more social connections you have among your neighbors, the less likely you are to die from a heart attack.

The study analyzed the social connections of more than 5,000 adults in urban, suburban and rural areas over a four- year period. Researchers controlled for factors like age, race, income, marital status, education, mental health, optimism and other known health-risk factors associated with heart attacks, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. By the end of the four years, 148 of the individuals studied had suffered a heart attack.

Maintaining friendly relationships with your neighbors may be good for your health because neighbors are more likely to check on each other and notice any potential health problems, share resources and health information, and lend money. They can also offer emotional support, which can be a buffer during times of stress.

Conversely, other studies have shown that negative aspects of a neighborhood can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health. For example, living in areas with violence, noise, poor air quality and access to too many fast food restaurants can have a negative impact on a person’s health. Further, a study at the University of Pennsylvania finds that living in areas with abandoned buildings can lead to isola- tion and hamper social relationships, which can lead to poor physical health of residents who live nearby.

Being helpful and neighborly is not only good for your health, it’s good for the health of the neighborhood.

CRS Your Home Newsletter November/December, 2014

Tammy Fadler