Walking Clubs and Vaccine Hesitancy

Hi all!

So glad that you have chosen to subscribe to this Substack, I hope you will find that these semi-regular newsletters offer some useful news and commentary on the broader areas of cities, planning, design, and technology.  Today, I want to tell you about a study I led which explored the topic of walkability, health, and neighborhood cohesion. 

For decades, communities throughout the country have embraced the idea of walking clubs, formal and organized attempts to bring geographically proximate individuals together to get exercise and socialize.  Some important research has been conducted that shows how effective these clubs can be at encouraging walking and hospitals widely run them to get their patients on their feet and exercising to improve post-op outcomes.

Working with colleagues in nutrition and community health at Tufts and a sociologist/urban planner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, we recruited dozens of Medford (MA) residents to join three walking clubs and then conducted an experiment to see how an App (RunKeeper) might help encourage physical activity and social cohesion among the members of the clubs.  You can read the full paper here:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7961398/

The results suggest that walking clubs could go far in increasing trust and building relationships among neighbors… these findings make we wonder if the clubs could also lead to increased interest in vaccination among those who might be reticent.  With the COVID-19 pandemic appearing to surge again among unvaccinated Americans, this research serves as a clarion call for local, state, and federal officials to find way to embrace social-apps like RunKeeper to bring neighbors together, build trust, promote healthy activities like walking, and promote vaccinations – where appropriate.

My fellow researchers and I are looking to expand our pilot study, please reach out to me if you want to be a part of future, expanded interventions.

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