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

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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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.


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.


More trail users (79%) performed recreational physical activity ≥ 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.


Trail users perform more recreational physical activity than nonusers. Gender differences in trail use patterns should be considered in the design and promotion of trails.

Troped is with the Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity, Dept of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115. Saunders is with the Dept of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina. Columbia, SC 29208. Pate is with the Dept of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.

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