Community Trail-Walkers Twice as Likely to Get Needed Exercise

Even nonusers said they'd pay higher taxes to support local fitness, study says

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MONDAY, Oct. 16, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- People who cycle or walk on community trails at least once a week are twice as likely as people who rarely use such trails to get the recommended amount of daily exercise, says a U.S. study in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Interestingly, the study also found that nearly half the people who said they didn't use the trails said they were in favor of more public trails. Many of them even said they'd be willing to pay more taxes to build more community trails.

Of the 3,717 adults in the study, 24 percent said they used community trails at least once a week, and 13 percent said they used trails at least once a month. However, 66 percent of the women and 60 percent of the men in the study said they rarely or never used trails.

People who said that trails and parks were important to them were nearly four times more likely to be weekly trail users than those who said that such public spaces were not important to them.

But 44 percent of non-trail users said they supported the idea of more trails and other public places to exercise, and 36 percent of them said they would be willing to pay more taxes for trails and parks.

Trails are easy to build within existing communities and, therefore, "could potentially be a cost-effective public health initiative," noted researcher John Librett, of the University of Utah.

"Trail networks have become a selling point for municipal governments and developers marketing to people seeking activity-friendly communities," he added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.

SOURCE: November 2006 American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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