There's yet another reason to pick that walkable community you've been thinking about for your next home. Walking is good for brain health and could contribute to keeping seniors more cognitively fit. 

That's according to new research by the BRAIN Lab at Colorado State University. It shows that aerobic exercise, particularly walking, positively affects – refreshes – the brain’s white matter. "White matter deterioration is associated with cognitive impairment in healthy aging and Alzheimer's disease," says the study.

Even if you've been inactive during the pandemic, putting on your walking shoes could improve your health. And living somewhere that allows for regular strolls and running errands on foot makes daily walks all the easier. Walkable communities also improve satisfaction, according to a pair of studies, the “Community and Transportation Preference Surveys,” conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® earlier this year.

Respondents who strongly agree that there are "lots of places to walk nearby" show an 8% increase in quality of life, for example. And older generations – Gen X and beyond – and those with higher incomes showed an increased interest in walkability. 

So, when you're scoping out a new neighbourhood, keep an eye out for the elements that make for a walkable community. 

According to Walkscore, they are: 

-A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a center, whether it's a main street or a public space.

-People: Enough people for businesses to flourish and for public transit to run frequently.

-Mixed-income, mixed-use: Affordable housing located near businesses.

-Parks and public space: Plenty of public places to gather and play.

-Pedestrian design: Buildings are close to the street and parking lots are relegated to the back.

-Schools and workplaces: Close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

-Complete streets: Streets designed for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit.

In 2020, Walkscore ranked Canada's most walkable cities and the top five are:

1. Vancouver (79.8 out of 100)
2. Montreal (65.4)
3. Toronto (61.0)
4. Hamilton (49.6)
5. Mississauga (48.9)

Additional Resources:

Learn more about walkable communities, how to incorporate walking into your day-to-day life, and where to find walking groups. 

Having read all that, there's only one question: Where will you walk today?
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Green home upgrades like installing a heat pump, adding insulation, and putting in new windows, can reward you with greater comfort and lower energy bills. 

Still, such projects can get expensive. 

By tapping the Canada Greener Homes Grant, you may be able to defray some of the costs. 

The federal grant program, launched in June, provides up to 700,000 grants of up to $5,600 for energy efficiency upgrades to eligible homeowners. 

Given that buildings account for 18% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, the grant serves twin purposes: helping homeowners improve home performance and achieving the country's climate goals.

Eligible Retrofits are:

  • Home insulation - up to $5,000
  • Air-sealing - up to $1,000
  • Windows and doors - each window/door is eligible for either $125 or $250
  • Thermostats - up to $50 (must be combined with another retrofit)
  • Space and water heating - up to $5,000
  • Renewable energy - up to $5,000
  • Resiliency measures - up to $1000 (must be combined with another energy efficiency retrofit)

The program is restricted to primary homes, and properties eligible for the grants are:

  • Single and semi-detached houses
  • Row housing
  • Townhomes
  • All-season cottages
  • Mobile homes on a permanent foundation
  • Permanently moored floating homes
  • Small multi-unit residential buildings (three storeys or less with a footprint of 600 m2 or less), and mixed-use buildings (residential portion only).

Be sure to read the fine print to fully understand all the requirements (, mandatory pre-and post-project evaluations, and how reimbursement works.

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Having spent the last twenty, thirty, forty or more years in your home, your walls and shelves may have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of memories. From the dinnerware you received on your wedding day to the endless photo albums and picture frames of loved ones, the daunting task of sorting through all of your collectables may seem impossible.

Here are 5 things to consider when going through your belongings and how to make the process easier for you:

1.     Clean Up Photos. Photo albums are not only heavy, but they also take up a lot of space on shelves. When downsizing, space is limited. Thanks to technology, photographs can now be stored digitally on computers and in online cloud platforms. This also makes your photos accessible to family members who also don’t have space to store boxes of albums for you.

There are numerous apps you can download onto your phone that will scan images and store them online. Ask a friend or child or grandchild for help if you need it. A few examples of free apps include PhotoScan, Photo Scanner, and FamilySearch Memories.

2.     Selling Valuables. One of the most difficult parts of downsizing your belongings is realizing which items are valuable to you for sentimental reasons and which are valuable because they’re worth money. Items that are worth something can be sold at an estate sale or on Facebook Marketplace or a similar online selling platform, like eBay. If there are items that are sentimental to family members, pass those items on to them. Items that you will have no use or space for in your new home and have no market value can be donated.

3.     Minimize Collections. If you don’t want to get rid of your entire dinnerware set, take a subset of it and sell or donate the rest. For example, if you have a dinnerware set that serves 16 people, minimize it to just 3 or 4.

4.     Test Items. Before packing any electrical items, test them to make sure they work. If not, see if they can be fixed. If all it requires is new batteries or a new lightbulb then you need only to decide if it’s worth keeping or donating. If an item is not reparable, toss it.

5.     Give Yourself Time. Downsizing is never easy. There are a lot of emotions that might surface as you reflect on decades of memories and experiences. Give yourself lots of time to go through your belongings so you’re not rushed and can savour the sentiments of your belongings.

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