Previous research has observed a positive correlation between having greenways or trails proximate to homes and the physical activity behaviors among residents. Few studies using a pre–post research design have been conducted, and each has pointed to the need for more rigorous studies which incorporate an appropriate control group.
Residents from households living within 1 mile of a proposed greenway and those from a control neighborhood located between 2 and 3 miles of the proposed greenway were randomly selected to participate in the study. Participants were mailed a survey before the onset of construction and again 1 year after the trail was opened. Outcomes were the number of days during the previous week that respondents reported participating in walking, moderate activity, and vigorous activity.
Repeated measures analyses of variance indicated no significant differences between the experimental and control groups in days of walking, moderate activity, or vigorous activity before and after the greenway was constructed.
Findings suggest that building a greenway did not affect the physical activity behaviors of proximate residents. Other studies should consider different trail types from a variety of settings to determine whether physical activity behavior changes may be context specific.