Background — The impact of moving to a neighborhood more conducive to utilitarian walking on the risk of incident hypertension is uncertain.
Objective — Our study aimed to examine the effect of moving to a highly walkable neighborhood on the risk of incident hypertension.
Methods — A population-based propensity-score matched cohort study design was used based on the Ontario population from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2001–2010). Participants were adults ≥ 20 years of age who moved from a low-walkability neighborhood (defined as any neighborhood with a Walk Score < 90) to either a high- (Walk Score ≥ 90) or another low-walkability neighborhood. The incidence of hypertension was assessed by linking the cohort to administrative health databases using a validated algorithm. Propensity-score matched Cox proportional hazard models were used. Annual health examination was used as a control event.
Results — Among the 1,057 propensity-score matched pairs there was a significantly lower risk of incident hypertension in the low to high vs. the low to low-walkability groups [hazard ratio = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.26, 0.81, p < 0.01]. The crude hypertension incidence rates were 18.0 per 1,000 person-years (95% CI: 11.6, 24.8) among the low- to low-walkability movers compared with 8.6 per 1,000 person-years (95% CI: 5.3, 12.7) among the low- to high-walkability movers (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in the hazard of annual health examination between the two mover groups.
Conclusions — Moving to a highly walkable neighborhood was associated with a significantly lower risk of incident hypertension. Future research should assess whether specific attributes of walkable neighborhoods (e.g., amenities, density, land-use mix) may be driving this relationship.
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Social determinants of health