A key objective of the Heart Foundation’s Active Living program is to increase the number of Australians sufficiently active for good health.
The Heart Foundation supports the creation of neighbourhoods that encourage people to be active.
Residential density is important in urban planning and design because different levels of density can result in different forms and neighbourhood characteristics, which influence whether an environment is supportive of an active lifestyle.
The discussion around density in Australia exists in a context of increasing pressure on population growth, using land sustainably and fuel prices. Confronted by these issues, state and federal governments are looking at new ways populations can be housed.
Does Density Matter? The role of density in creating walkable neighbourhoods (2014)
Authors: Tuesday Udell, Michelle Daley, Britt Johnson, Dr Rodney Tolley
This discussion paper highlights that well designed and located, higher density neighbourhoods are desirable and add value to our community.
This discussion paper argues that:
- People living in higher density neighbourhoods undertake more walking and physical activity than people living in low density neighbourhoods
- Density and six other key built environment features work together to create walkable neighbourhoods
- Additional amenity makes density work and can enhance community acceptance of density
The Heart Foundation supports the creation of healthy active neighbourhoods, and higher densities should be seen as one component to achieve this. If we want people to walk more, then density matters.
Download the Does Density Matter? report.
Low density development: Impacts on physical activity and associated health outcomes (2014)
Authors: Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Dr Paula Hooper, Dr Sarah Foster, Dr Mohammad Javad Koohsari, Dr Jacinta Francis
Commissioned by the Heart Foundation
To design neighbourhoods that support people in being able to walk or cycle to public transport, work or school we need to get the level of density right. Density that is too low can have an impact on physical activity levels and unfortunately in many Australia cities we continue to build low density neighbourhoods. Evidence suggests that adults living in low density neighbourhoods are less likely to walk and to use public transport, will spend more time driving, and along with adolescents are more likely to be overweight or obese.
If we continue to build our neighbourhoods at low density then we will make it difficult for residents to be physically active and the risk factors to heart disease will continue to have a negative impact on health and wellbeing.
Download the Low density development report.
Increasing density in Australia: maximising the health benefits and minimising harm (2012)
Authors: Professor Billie Giles-Corti, Kate Ryan, Dr Sarah Foster
Commissioned by the Heart Foundation
Increasing residential density has the potential to produce numerous benefits to the environment and the community including health benefits.
This literature review addressed the impact of higher density on a range of health outcomes and across the life course including physical activity, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, road traffic mortality, respiratory health and mental health.
The findings suggest that to optimise an increase in density there should be a focus on three main constructs:
- building factors (its location, construction, design and maintenance)
- social, cultural and socioeconomic factors
- neighbourhood environment factors.
Download the Increasing density in Australia report.
Blueprint for an Active Australia.