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Philip J. Troped, Ruth P. Saunders and Russell R. Pate

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 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 promotion of trails.

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Stephanie L. Orstad, Meghan H. McDonough, David B. Klenosky, Marifran Mattson and Philip J. Troped

Background:

Promoting use of community trails is a recommended strategy for increasing population levels of physical activity. Correlates of walking and cycling for recreation or transportation differ, though few studies have compared correlates of trailbased physical activity for recreation and transportation purposes. This study examined associations of demographic, social, and perceived built environmental factors with trail use for recreation and transportation and whether associations were moderated by age, gender, and prior trail use.

Methods:

Adults (N = 1195) using 1 of 5 trails in Massachusetts responded to an intercept survey. We used multiple linear and logistic regression models to examine associations with trail use.

Results:

Respondents’ mean age was 44.9 years (standard deviation = 12.5), 55.3% were female, and 82.0% were white. Age (longer-term users only), trail use with others, travel time to the trail, and trail design were significantly associated with use for recreation (P < .05). Age, gender, trail safety (longer-term users only), travel time to the trail, trail design (younger users only), and trail beauty were associated with use for transportation (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Some common correlates were found for recreational and transportation trail use, whereas some variables were uniquely associated with use for 1 purpose. Tailored strategies are suggested to promote trail use for recreation and transportation.

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Philip J. Troped, Heather A. Whitcomb, Brent Hutto, Julian A. Reed and Steven P. Hooker

Purpose:

This study assessed test-retest reliability of an interviewer-administered trail survey.

Methods:

An intercept survey was conducted with adults using 2 paved trails in Indiana and South Carolina (N = 295; mean age = 46.9 ± 18 y). The survey included items on frequency and duration of trail use for recreation and transportation, other patterns of trail use, and sociodemographic characteristics. Fifty-five adults completed the survey twice (2−16 d apart; mean = 7.4 ± 2.6 d). Test-retest reliability was assessed with Spearman rank correlation coefficients, Kappa coefficients, and percent agreement.

Results:

Kappa coefficients and percent agreement for 9 categorical items ranged from 0.65 to 0.96 and from 64.0% to 98.2%, respectively. Among these items, the lowest Kappas were found for perceived safety (0.65) and reported duration of visits for recreational purposes (0.67). Spearman rank correlation coefficients for travel distance to and on the trail and frequency of trail use during the past 7 days and past 4 weeks ranged from 0.62 to 0.93.

Conclusion:

Though further assessments of this survey with different populations and types of trails may be warranted, its overall high reliability indicates it can be used by researchers and practitioners in its current form.

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Heather A. Starnes, Philip J. Troped, David B. Klenosky and Angela M. Doehring

Purpose:

To provide a synthesis of research on trails and physical activity from the public health, leisure sciences, urban planning, and transportation literatures.

Methods:

A search of databases was conducted to identify studies published between 1980 and 2008.

Results:

52 studies were identified. The majority were cross-sectional (92%) and published after 1999 (77%). The evidence for the effects of trails on physical activity was mixed among 3 intervention and 5 correlational studies. Correlates of trail use were examined in 13 studies. Several demographic (eg, race, education, income) and environmental factors (eg, land-use mix and distance to trail) were related to trail use. Evidence from 31 descriptive studies identified several facilitators and barriers to trail use. Economic studies (n = 5) examining trails in terms of health or recreational outcomes found trails are cost-effective and produce significant economic benefits.

Conclusion:

There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating important factors that should be considered in promoting trail use, yet the evidence for positive effects of trails on physical activity is limited. Further research is needed to evaluate the effects of trails on physical activity. In addition, trail studies that include children and youth, older adults, and racial and ethnic minorities are a research priority.

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Karen E. Peterson, Tamara Dubowitz, Anne M. Stoddard, Philip J. Troped, Glorian Sorensen and Karen M. Emmons

Background:

Persistent disparities suggest that multiple aspects of social context may influence leisure-time physical activity levels and weight status in multiethnic, working-class populations.

Methods:

Among participants in two randomized, controlled intervention trials (n = 1,969 in 10 health centers; n = 1,545 in 26 manufacturing businesses) we used general linear mixed models to examine the relationship of variables posited by a social-contextual framework for behavior change with h/wk of self-reported leisure-time physical activity and with body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/(height (m))2) at baseline, adjusting for clustering within study site.

Results:

Age, sex, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic position were independently associated with leisure-time physical activity in both settings; multivariable models explained 15% of the variance in health centers and 11% in small businesses. Leisure-time physical activity and motivation to change lifestyle behaviors were inversely associated with BMI, adjusting for individual, interpersonal, and neighborhood factors. Models explained 12% of variance in BMI in health centers and 10% in small businesses.

Conclusions:

A social-contextual framework highlights the contribution of social class and race/ethnicity in the variance in leisure-time physical activity and weight status but suggests other behavioral influences vary in multiethnic, working-class populations.

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Kosuke Tamura, Jeffrey S. Wilson, Robin C. Puett, David B. Klenosky, William A. Harper and Philip J. Troped

Background: Concurrent use of accelerometers and global positioning system (GPS) data can be used to quantify physical activity (PA) occurring on trails. This study examined associations of trail use with PA and sedentary behavior (SB) and quantified on trail PA using a combination of accelerometer and GPS data. Methods: Adults (N = 142) wore accelerometer and GPS units for 1–4 days. Trail use was defined as a minimum of 2 consecutive minutes occurring on a trail, based on GPS data. We examined associations between trail use and PA and SB. On trail minutes of light-intensity, moderate-intensity, and vigorous-intensity PA, and SB were quantified in 2 ways, using accelerometer counts only and with a combination of GPS speed and accelerometer data. Results: Trail use was positively associated with total PA, moderate-intensity PA, and light-intensity PA (P < .05). On trail vigorous-intensity PA minutes were 346% higher when classified with the combination versus accelerometer only. Light-intensity PA, moderate-intensity PA, and SB minutes were 15%, 91%, and 85% lower with the combination, respectively. Conclusions: Adult trail users accumulated more PA on trail use days than on nontrail use days, indicating the importance of these facilities for supporting regular PA. The combination of GPS and accelerometer data for quantifying on trail activity may be more accurate than accelerometer data alone and is useful for classifying intensity of activities such as bicycling.

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Philip J. Troped, Heather A. Starnes, Robin C. Puett, Kosuke Tamura, Ellen K. Cromley, Peter James, Eran Ben-Joseph, Steven J. Melly and Francine Laden

There are few studies of built environment associations with physical activity and weight status among older women in large geographic areas that use individual residential buffers to define environmental exposures. Among 23,434 women (70.0 ± 6.9 yr; range = 57–85) in 3 states, relationships between objective built environment variables and meeting physical activity recommendations via walking and weight status were examined. Differences in associations by population density and state were explored in stratified models. Population density (odds ratio [OR] =1.04 [1.02, 1.07]), intersection density (ORs = 1.18–1.28), and facility density (ORs = 1.01–1.53) were positively associated with walking. Density of physical activity facilities was inversely associated with overweight/obesity (OR = 0.69 [0.49, 0.96]). The strongest associations between facility density variables and both outcomes were found among women from higher population density areas. There was no clear pattern of differences in associations across states. Among older women, relationships between accessible facilities and walking may be most important in more densely populated settings.

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Philip J. Troped, Ellen K. Cromley, Maren S. Fragala, Steven J. Melly, Hope H. Hasbrouck, Steven L. Gortmaker and Ross C. Brownson

Background:

To determine how trail characteristics may influence use, reliable and valid audit tools are needed.

Methods:

The Path Environment Audit Tool (PEAT) was developed with design, amenity, and aesthetics/maintenance items. Two observers independently audited 185 trail segments at 6 Massachusetts facilities. GPS-derived items were used as a “gold standard.” Kappa (k) statistics, observed agreement and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated to assess inter-observer reliability and validity.

Results:

Fifteen of 16 primary amenity items had k-values ≥ 0.49 (“moderate”) and all had observed agreement ≥ 81%. Seven binary design items had k-values ranging from 0.19 to 0.71 and three of 5 ordinal items had ICCs ≥ 0.52. Only two aesthetics/maintenance items (n = 7) had moderate ICCs. Observed agreement between PEAT and GPS items was ≥ 0.77; k-values were ≥ 0.57 for 7 out of 10 comparisons.

Conclusions:

PEAT has acceptable reliability for most of its primary items and appears ready for use by researchers and practitioners.