Awareness and use of community walking trails.
ABSTRACT Community trail development is an emerging strategy to increase physical activity (PA) among community residents. The purpose of this study was to assess awareness and use of trails and compare perceptions to objective data.
A telephone survey was administered to a stratified sample of adults (N = 1,112) in a southeastern county in the United States. Respondents' home addresses and the locations of trails were entered into a GIS database. A kappa statistic was used to measure agreement between awareness and presence of trails. Differences in reported trail use patterns by sex, race, education, and PA levels were evaluated.
There was no agreement between the awareness and presence of trails (kappa = 0.07). Fifty-six percent of the respondents reported having trails; however, only 33% reported using the trails. Of the trail users, 42% reported being regularly active in moderate-to-vigorous PA (30+ min/day for 5+ days/week), and 51% reported being less active (P < 0.003). Among walkers (> or =30 min/day for > or =5 days/week), 49% of regular walkers and 35% of irregular walkers (< walkers) reported using the trails (P < 0.04).
Awareness of existing trails in this community and levels of use were low. Marketing programs should promote awareness and use of trails among older adults and irregularly active adults.
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ABSTRACT: We examined prospectively whether persons who perceive their objectively measured high walkable environment as low walkable decrease their walking more and gain more weight than those with matched perceptions. Walkability was measured objectively using GIS. Corresponding perceptions were collected using the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale from 1027 urban Australian adults. Objective and perceived measures were dichotomized and categories of match and mismatch were created. Overall, walking levels decreased and BMI increased significantly over the four year follow-up period. Those who perceived high walkability, dwelling density or land use mix as low decreased their walking for transport significantly more than those with matched perceptions. Those who perceived high walkability, land use mix or retail density as low increased their BMI significantly more than those with concordant perceptions. These prospective findings corroborate recommendations from previous cross-sectional studies. Interventions to improve negative perceptions of walkability among those living in high walkable areas may be a relevant public health intervention to increase physical activity and support weight maintenance.Health & Place 12/2010; 17(2):519-24. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.12.008 · 2.44 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This research examines the site and situation characteristics of community trails as landscapes promoting physical activity. Trail segment and neighborhood characteristics for six trails in urban, suburban, and exurban towns in northeastern Massachusetts were assessed from primary Global Positioning System (GPS) data and from secondary Census and land use data integrated in a geographic information system (GIS). Correlations between neighborhood street and housing density, land use mix, and sociodemographic characteristics and trail segment characteristics and amenities measure the degree to which trail segment attributes are associated with the surrounding neighborhood characteristics.
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ABSTRACT: Despite great effort to improve physical activity, little success has come to pass. Due to this, some researchers have shifted from individual approaches to promoting physical activity to multilevel environmental approaches. One of these multifaceted environmental approaches is through community trails. A small body of research has suggested that community trails may be a successful ecological approach to promoting physical activity. However, the research is minimal and inconsistent in supporting effectiveness of community trails for promoting physical activity. This study sought to examine ecological factors to learn if and how they might influence trail use among women. The ecological factors measured in this study were intrapersonal (age, time, race/ethnicity), sociocultural (income, education, social support), and physical environmental (cost, convenience, safety). A survey was conducted among 67 women using a community trail in St. George, Utah during the spring of 2008. Multiple linear regression models and Pearson correlations performed measured the predictive value of the ecological influences of physical activity, studied the relationship between community trail use and physical activity, and gained a clearer understanding of the characteristics of women trail users. Eighty-four percent of the sample reported using trails for physical activity and 74% reported since they began using trails, they participated in more physical activity. Physical activity and trail use were significantly and positively correlated. Convenience, outdoors and aesthetics were reported as motivators to use trails. Sixty-nine percent of the sample perceived the trail to be very convenient and convenience significantly predicted trail use. Convenience was also significantly and negatively correlated with the distance one traveled to the trail. The remaining ecological factors failed to predict trail use. Promoting community trail use among women who live within close proximity to trails may be an effective approach to reaching out to more people in an effort to promote physical activity. This conclusion is supported by the findings that women trail users were significantly likely to use trails regularly, participate in physical activity, and live within close proximity to trails. It is inconclusive what and how other ecological factors might influence community trail use among women.