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Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-03-2007, 09:01 PM   #1
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Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18474041/

This was in my MSN Health Email when I returned from a walk this afternoon. Frankly, I have been happier at times than I am the last few weeks. Things are not wonderful with my wife, I lost my dog, my kids are busy, etc.

But I noticed how I basically felt good and at peace with life when I was returning home from a walk to do a few errands and pass the time. I stopped in an upscale thrift store, if this isn't an oxymoron. It's a Cancer Society store, and managed by two older aristocratic ladies-- one a Scot from Edinburg and the other a Brit with an Oxbridge accent. They alone are worth the walk. But additionally, they have fabulous clothing tastes. Today I bought a great looking suit which will require only slight pants alterations ($12), and three very nice apparently new shirts all for $25.50. It's Thursday, so the men's clothing department is 50% off! Also, usually when I go there some of the middle aged women patrons give me a little light flirting.

Next went to Starbucks (no really good coffee in this town!) and enjoyed the comfortable chair, reggae and friendly atmosphere as well as a doppio espresso macchiato. I sat around for a while reading a story about the mob in South Boston back in the 60s and 70s, and about Louise Day Hicks and Judge Garrity (many of you from Boston will remember both these people).

Next I stopped at a butcher where the pony-tailed owner is a huge fan of John and Yoko, and Beatles music is always playing. There are small statues of John and Yoko. Everyone there is very nice and friendly.

By the time I got home I felt quite a bit better than when I went out, that is for sure!

Anyway, when I saw this article I was not surprised. Not only from my own experience, but also that of the older guys I have met around here, as well as my own father. Living in a nice walkable area where he could make friends and pass pleasant time really helped my Dad as he got older. He just didn't get rigid or opinionated like many older men because he had so many young contacts. He told me he tried to meet young people because they were not near so likely to die as his age-mates. That alone might be some sort of anti-depressant I guess.

Ha

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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-03-2007, 09:44 PM   #2
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Walking and staying connected to your neighborhood is a wonderful pursuit. DW and I prowl our area daily for about 45 minutes. We used to be known as the people with the Doberman, but now it's just us.

Rarely do we get through without at least a brief "stop and chat" (Larry David, anyone?). The other dogs give us a little therapy, and we know neighbors we never would have met. We see the houses that are being upgraded, and a few that are getting more tired every week. We have seen eagles in our local park, and helped a few elderly residents who got locked out of their house.

Keeps you feeling connected and part of something larger than yourself.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 06:54 AM   #3
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Your description captures why I plan to stay on Capitol Hill (DC). Sounds like a nice town Ha -- where are you?
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

DW and I have been "walking" for over 25 years. When kids were young it was "our time" to discuss the day, kids, etc. We try to always purchase a home in areas that are conducive to long and safe walks -- seems to have become a "purchase criteria" above some others. We try to walk twice a day for about an hour each. Some days we miss out and others we have to use a treadmill due to weather. The outside, neighborhood walks are the best. Ducks, Geese, Herons, Squirrels along with local dogs and neighbors, can really become significant high points of most days. I do not know if it avoids depression but I am sure it cannot hurt.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 11:39 AM   #5
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Ha, I'm sorry to hear you've been down in the dumps, and especially wanted to say I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. Getting out and about always helps the blues, if you can get motivated to do it.

I think the volunteer dog-walking would be great too! Maybe you don't have to commit to a specific schedule?

Here's hoping things are looking up soon!
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 11:46 AM   #6
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

HaHa......your description of your day sounds like many of the days in our life. The only difference is that we have neighborhoods spread out in various states that we frequent. We have perhaps a dozen places or more in the country that when we walk down the street, folks recognize us and we pick up an ongoing relationship of sorts. We call those areas our "places of the heart", and they are our neighborhood, even if we are only there periodically. We like to say that our house is really, really small, but our neighborhood, it is really huge. It bridges the gap in this nomadic world between that desire to see what's on the other side of the hill and the comfort of being a known person in a known place.

Sorry that you've been feeling down, but it sounds like you're doing a good job of finding pleasant moments in your day. We hope things at home go better for you soon.

LooseChickens
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 12:29 PM   #7
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Thanks everyone for your caring responses, and for sharing your observations on your coping strategies.

I found it interesting in the article that they said that more than simple physical exercise was involved in the improvement they found. It was apparently partly physical activity, but also partly a connection that is mostly there to be partaken of. Sort of like a safety layer below relationships, family and close friends, which are richer and more important than casual encounters, but also more subject to change, disruption and loss.

Another thing I found puzzling was that women didn't show the same degree of symptom alleviation. I suppose maybe because women are often better integrated into their communities anyway, and maybe to some degree because women may not feel as safe reaching out in this way.

Ha
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 01:35 PM   #8
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Ha ,Sorry for your troubles . It does sound like you have a great neighborhood.
I was walking in my neighborhood and an older women called to me to help her with her garbage .I took her garbage to the curb but apparently it wasn't the right spot .She had me move the garbage three times before I walked away.I'd rather be in your neighborhood .That thrift shop sounds perfect.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 01:57 PM   #9
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Ha, I hope things turn around for you, that neighborhood sounds like just the place to ease your mind.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-04-2007, 02:29 PM   #10
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

The description of your day sounds like some days I have, but very little walking is involved. That is, sometimes I drop off DW at her volunteer job, and I do a bunch of errands that I enjoy, and take my time with. Take my time at surf shop or hardware store, have a snack somewhere, etc. It would be nice if this stuff were within walking distance, but it's not.

My point is that the take your time, putter around aspect of the day doesn't depend on walking.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-05-2007, 10:39 AM   #11
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Well, yes and no. My grandparents lived about 40 years in a seedy area of Alexandria VA, until about the mid 1970s. Grandpa was beaten or mugged at least a few times in those later years. He did get a lot of exercise, walking around and collecting cans and bottles and so on. He made it into his 80s (90s I think) so mostly to the good. Ironically, this area of suburban DC in the 1990 had a renaissance and I'm sure the properties have achieved ridiculous values. I'd never have guessed that in the 1960s -- shortly after the riots and such. Pity nobody told me to buy Potomac Yard back then (but it wasn't for sale for a few more decades...)
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-05-2007, 10:48 AM   #12
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

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Originally Posted by pedorrero
Well, yes and no. My grandparents lived about 40 years in a seedy area of Alexandria VA, until about the mid 1970s.
One of the criteria used to differentiate walkable areas from others was street safety. Obviously one could walk in the ghetto, they have sidewalks and streetlights, right?

But most people would not consider this walkable.

Ha
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-05-2007, 11:17 AM   #13
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

"Walkable Neighborhoods" is a big buzz word in architecture and urban design these days. It's part of the general backlash against suburbia (by planners, rmost residents don't seem so unhappy with it).

It generally means neighborhoods where you can live, shop, eat, and sometimes work (especially if you work retail) within walking distance of home.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Urbanism
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-07-2007, 01:26 PM   #14
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

My wife and I are hoping to pull the plug at the end of this year and relocate. The idea of being able to walk all around the community is a major aspect of our selection criteria.

Makes me feel better to see the idea has support beyond just us.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-09-2007, 09:26 AM   #15
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

The benefits of a daily walk can be substantial.

Iíve been walking on a regular basis for quite a few years and can testify to the benefits, both physical and mental. In addition, I have a pet theory about why walking is good for your mood and attitude.

When we get our driverís license, our primary mode of transportation becomes the car. When driving, you are moving through the environment, youíre insulated from what is happening all around you. In addition, the speed at which youíre moving prevents you from really appreciating anything you might encounter along the way.

However, when you walk, you are immersed in the environment. Youíre not driving through it, youíre part of it. You see and hear things all around you. If you want to stop and look at something, you can. Iím fortunate in that the area I live in is pretty rural, so I usually encounter some wildlife (hawks, squirrels, gopher turtles, etc.) on my walk.

At the end of the workday, while Iím walking, I can feel the stress and anxiety of the workplace melting away.

John
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-09-2007, 06:04 PM   #16
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

I so agree with this thread.

My wife and I are walkers. And, for the past quarter century we've looked forward to our daily walk.
Now (temporarily) we live on a mountainside that makes it impossible just to walk (I stupidly chose view over walkability). We'll retire next year and a neighborhood that is both easy to walk and filled with chatty folks will be what I'm looking for.

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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-11-2007, 08:08 AM   #17
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

This is what my husband is looking for and I think we have settled on just the neighborhood. Now to find just the perfect house. We have a little bungalow in mind that is for sale by owner.

We can walk to our doctor, several organic/natural grocery stores, more restaurants than you can count, bagel place, pharmacy, my eye doctor, the big railroad walking trail thru town, the library (one sidewalked mile away), etc. AAHHHH.

We laugh and say we will buy the little downsized house and use it as our vacation home and walk the 5 miles or so from our downtown home until we can retire. What a life.
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-11-2007, 01:37 PM   #18
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetana3
We can walk to our doctor, several organic/natural grocery stores, more restaurants than you can count, bagel place, pharmacy, my eye doctor, the big railroad walking trail thru town, the library (one sidewalked mile away), etc. AAHHHH.
Sounds wonderful! Will you share where this nirvana exists?
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-12-2007, 05:15 PM   #19
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Live in a great little town (city really) with just about everything you could ever want within walking distance. It's a beautiful day today so I went out for a walk to do a bunch of errands (picking up beer, avocados, and a used paper back for some afternoon leisure). Came back just slightly irritated by the crowds of other people out walking around enjoying the day.

Nothing a good cold beer and guacamole couldn't set right, though. 8)
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression
Old 05-12-2007, 05:22 PM   #20
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Re: Walkable Neighborhoods Help Older Men Avoid Depression

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3 Yrs to Go
Came back just slightly irritated by the crowds of other people out walking around enjoying the day.
If you had one of these, you would have realized it's Saturday and known what to expect...or stayed home.



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