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15 April . 2016

Open Spaces and a Healthy Lifestyle


Homeowners and homebuyers in North Carolina increasingly desire communities offering open spaces. For those considering relocation, a key factor in the decision-making process can be a state’s natural resources —such as the climate, mountains, ocean, lakes, hiking trails and wildlife — that make life more enjoyable.

So, what’s the broad definition of a community with open spaces? This type of community offers shared land that benefits the entire neighborhood — often with a social, environmental and/or economic impact. Today, it’s not unusual for an open space to take up more than one-third of the total area of a neighborhood. Residents of these communities often attribute a heightened sense of unity to the open spaces, as they often use these areas to get active, congregate and rebalance.

Green, Open Spaces Increase Opportunities for Physical Activity

There’s no doubt that having a green, open space in a community provides residents with more chances to stay fit. These open spaces can be recreational areas such as parks, walking trails, playgrounds, community gardens and sports fields. Regardless of type, these spaces encourage people to get moving, which is imperative to a healthy lifestyle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most important steps a person can take to promote good health is to routinely get active. The latest survey from the CDC regarding physical activity in North Carolina was conducted in 2013. That year, more than 48 percent of adults surveyed claimed to achieve at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (or an equivalent combination). Regular physical activity aids in:

  • keeping weight under control

  • lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers

  • strengthening muscles and bones

  • improving mood, mental health and chances for a longer life

  • enhancing overall general capacity to perform everyday activities

The Benefits Add Up

In addition to encouraging residents to stay physically fit, communities with open spaces offer a variety of other benefits:

Safer Communities

When streets are designed specifically for walking, cycling and driving, residents live in a safer environment. Thoroughfares are designed with each transportation method in mind for improved safety, and when the entire neighborhood is more active and outdoors, it provides a strong deterrent to criminal activity.

More Unified Communities

Open spaces promote social interaction within a community. Residents find opportunities for interpersonal interaction in neighborhood parks, on walking trails, while cycling to local shops and when gardening together, for example.

Improved Community Environments

Whenever residents opt to walk, bike or use public transportation instead of driving, they reduce or eliminate the greenhouse gases and air pollution that would have been released from gas-powered vehicles. This can also instill among residents a sense of pride and responsibility to the green spaces.

Enhanced Local and Community Economies

Features including protected bike lanes, access to public transit, streets that are pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use development, which often are features of communities with dedicated open spaces, can contribute to economic benefits such as higher home values, increased activity for retail businesses, and even a decrease in the costs of providing public utilities and public infrastructure. 

The Bottom Line About Open Spaces

Communities with open spaces are a great fit for families young and old. Those with or without young children will likely value features such as parks, sidewalks and bike trails. Those who have retired may prefer features such as walking trails, community gardens or outside areas. And residents of every age will appreciate the connectedness gained when living in a community where people truly know their neighbors and communicate with them regularly.  

At RiverLights, we’re committed to providing a lifestyle unlike anywhere else. Our new community will consist of approximately 38 percent open spaces for residents to enjoy. Stay up to date on the latest developments by joining our email list or follow along with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit NewlandCommunities.com for more information about the largest private developer of planned residential and urban mixed-use communities in the United States — Newland Communities.