I recently read an article in The Sacramento Bee that confirmed what I've suspected for a long time: Americans know that walking is good for their health and that they aren't doing enough of it. According to a survey commissioned by the major health-care provider Kaiser Permanente, a whopping 94% of Americans recognize the physical and mental health benefits of walking, and 79% admit that they aren't doing enough of it to enjoy these benefits. These benefits range from weight loss to heart disease prevention to stress reduction..
The survey respondents gave a variety of reasons, including a lack of time or energy, for not incorporating walking into their daily lives. I was especially interested to read that many also said that not being able to walk to shops, schools and services prevented them from walking more. A full 40% of respondents described their neighborhoods as "not very" or "not at all" walkable. They cited a lack of sidewalks, speeding cars, and drivers who talk/text while driving as the biggest barriers to walking in their neighborhoods.
The survey also found that those who live in walkable neighborhoods do, in fact, walk more. It seems to me, then, that buying a home in Montclair or Maplewood (both very walkable communities) can actually be beneficial to one's mental and physical well-being.