Today, seniors have more options than ever before when looking for retirement living. In addition to aging in place or moving in with family, seniors can move to an age-restricted community or a continuing care retirement community also known as life plan communities. Continuing care communities (CCRC’s) are a relatively recent invention dating only to the second part of the 20th century.
When choosing a CCRC, seniors may consider many factors from accommodation availability to services and amenities to the cost involved. In recent years, an in-demand feature has been a retirement community’s “walkability”.
What Are the Benefits of Walkable Communities?
The word “walkability” is a relatively recent addition to the lexicon. Generally speaking, walkability refers to the distance between places, the quality of the trails or paths and the environment’s appeal. For example, a community that has wide, smooth sidewalks will have a relatively high walkability rating compared to one with uneven gravel paths or no sidewalks.
When discussing walkability, researchers usually focus on the benefits in several areas:
- Health benefits: People who live in walkable communities tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Living in a place where walking is encouraged can help people be more active, reducing the risks commonly associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Environmental benefits: Walkability also has several environmental benefits. The less people drive, the less carbon dioxide they produce and the less pollution they produce overall. Less driving also means a reduction in vehicular traffic, which can improve the sound environment by leading to less noise pollution.
- Safety benefits: Walkable communities can also be safer communities. If a community is designed with walkability in mind, it might have wider sidewalks or buffered sidewalks, which reduce the chance of a pedestrian getting hit by a vehicle.
- Emotional benefits: Walking has been shown to boost mental and emotional health. It gives people a chance to unwind and decompress. If they get to walk in a natural setting, such as through a wooded area, they can enjoy the benefits of being in nature and green space.
Why Walkable Neighborhoods for Older Adults Are Important
Fitness for seniors is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly, which is about 30 minutes a day, five days per week.
Adults who have conditions limiting their ability to exercise can try to do as much as possible based on their physical abilities.
Walkable neighborhoods help older adults enjoy the benefits of physical activity, such as:
- Reduced risk of developing chronic conditions: Exercise can help lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, which in turn helps to reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Regular physical activity can also help improve blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s also some evidence to suggest that exercise can help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
- Improved management of chronic conditions: Older adults who already have certain conditions, like diabetes, can see an improvement in their conditions if they take up an exercise program.
- Improved weight: Along with making dietary changes, aiming to get the recommended amount of weekly physical activity can help older adults manage their weight or lose a few excess pounds.
- Improved mood and mental function: Physical activity can help protect the brain, improve cognitive ability and potentially reduce dementia risk. It can also help people regulate their mood.
- Improved bone health: Bone loss is a common part of aging for many people. Physical activity can help keep the bones strong, reducing the risk of fractures.
- Improved daily function: Physical activity can also help older adults continue to live independently for longer. Staying sharp and fit allows people to continue to do their own shopping and chores. It also helps them play with their grandchildren for longer.
Why Walkability Is Important When Choosing a CCRC
Moving into a walkable CCRC helps older adults keep their independence for as long as possible. Walkable CCRCs also encourage physical activity. When one moves into a community that makes it easy to go for a walk, you’ll be much more likely to take a stroll and enjoy time in nature.
Another benefit of walkable CCRCs is that they streamline physical activity. The best type of movement is natural movement, which is integrated into a person’s daily activities. It’s much easier to get your exercise in by walking from point A to point B than it is to go to the gym and walk the same distance on a treadmill. A walkable community is designed with physical activity in mind, allowing people to incorporate a daily walk into their lives with ease.
Benefits That Cornwall Manor Offers
Cornwall Manor recognizes the importance of physical activity for the body and mind. Our community has numerous walking paths that make it easy for people to walk around. Ten Outdoor fitness stations are situated along a trail on our Buckingham campus. The fitness stations give people a chance to get their heart rates up, improve their stability and lower their fall risk, all while going on a stroll along a nature path.
In addition to the many walking paths and fitness stations, our community offers quick access to the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail. The trail stretches for 26 miles along what was once the Cornwall-Lebanon Railroad and is a great walking and bicycling trail.
Schedule Your Visit to Cornwall Manor Today
Cornwall Manor is a welcoming community for all with two campuses in Lebanon County. We aim to help our residents remain independent while they live at Cornwall Manor. The two campuses have numerous amenities and features that encourage an active and independent lifestyle, including walking trails and fitness programs. To learn more and to see what life is like at Cornwall Manor, schedule a visit today. We offer guest accommodations so you can spend a night to get a real sense of what your new home will be like.