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Original Research Comparisons Between Rail-Trail Users and Nonusers and Men and Women's Patterns of Use in a Suburban Community

Background: Physical activity research on trails is limited. We compared rail-trail users and nonusers on demographics, physical activity, and barriers/concerns about trail use; and described use among men and women. Methods: Four hundred thirteen adults completed a physical activity survey during fall 1998. Chi-square statistics and t-tests were used to compare trail users to nonusers, and men and women on trail use. Results: More trail users (79%) performed recreational physical activity ³ 3 d/wk, compared to nonusers (47%). Walking was the most common activity for trail users and nonusers. Both groups shared concerns about safe access to the trail and certain trail conditions. A higher percentage of female versus male users traveled to the trail by walking, walked on the trail, used the trail with a friend, and perceived that if the trail were not available their activity would decrease. Conclusions: Trail users perform more recreational physical activity than nonusers. Gender differences in trail use patterns should be considered in the design and promo-tion of trails.

Authors: Philip J. Troped, Ruth P. Saunders, Russell R. Pate

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