University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


City life is good for you

New Yorkers have a longer life expectancy than other Americans. U of C researcher says walking is the secret

Exhaust fumes and seething crowds do not seem like a recipe for longevity. Why then are New Yorkers outliving their counterparts in American suburbia?

Hours spent tramping the sidewalks is an important factor for life-expectancy, writes University of Copenhagen metabolism researcher Bente Klarlund Pedersen, in a column for the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen.

Since the 1990’s the average American’s life expectancy has increased by 2½ years. The lucky citizens of New York have gained an extra 6.2 years. Apart from walking, other factors cited include reduction in deaths among young people due to for example, HIV or violent crime.

Different kinds of walking

According to Bente Klarlund Pedersen you can walk your way to health. However, it’s not just about whether you walk, but how you walk.

True New Yorkers walk at a faster pace than visitors.

Commuting by car in New York traffic makes no sense. New Yorkers join the human tide and use their body as their primary mode of transport.

Muscles produce hormones

Muscles are imperative to our overall wellbeing, as they have an endocrine, hormone-producing function as well as a mechanical, says Bente Klarlund Pedersen in an article for the Faculty of Heath Sciences’ website.

When we exercise, our muscles produce hormone-like myokines, which affect the body’s insulin resistance and help to prevent evils like diabetes, cancer and depression, to name but a few.

Cityscape plays a role

New York has been crowned the best walking city in the USA. City planning is a key factor. Many US suburban towns are characterised by highways without sidewalks. This is far from encouraging to would-be pedestrians.

The city of Copenhagen prides itself on its ‘bike-culture’, which is a fine example of how infrastructure affects behaviour.