Document Type


Publication Date



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology



We evaluated physical activity patterns and trail use among new and habitually active exercisers using onsite trail interviews.


Using a cross-sectional study design, 414 adults who accessed two new trails that bisect a rural community of 26,809 residents were interviewed during the first summer of the trails' official operation (2001). The trails comprise 12 miles of level and paved surface and run parallel to adjacent water sheds, businesses, and neighborhoods. Recent trail activity patterns were obtained, including the following: frequency of use, mode of activity, duration, distance traveled on trail, access points, time of day used, use of exercise companions, and distance traveled to get to trail. Perceived enablers and barriers related to trail use were also obtained. Data were compared between newly adopted exercisers (new exercisers) and individuals active prior to development of the trails (habitually active exercisers).


Twenty-three percent of the trail users were new exercisers. New exercisers were more dependent on the trails as a primary outlet for physical activity than were habitually active exercisers (P < .001). New exercisers traveled shorter distances to access the trails and rated convenience as a primary reason for using them. Both safety and terrain issues emerged as enablers for trail use, and unsafe conditions emerged as a concern among new exercisers.


A community trail may be an important vehicle for promoting physically active lifestyles. However, new exercisers must overcome issues of proximal and safe access from residential areas in addition to other safety concerns to achieve regular physical activity.

Source Citation

Gordon PM, Zizzi SJ,Pauline J. Use of a community trail among new and habitual exercisers: a preliminary assessment. Prev Chronic Dis 2004 Oct.



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