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Health and fitness benefits of trails and greenways
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Trails expenditures shown to reduce health-care costs

A cost-benefit analysis of using bike/pedestrian trails in Lincoln, Nebraska, to reduce health care costs associated with inactivity.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails

"Every $1 investment in trails for physical activity led to $2.94 in direct medical benefit."

A 2004 study quantifies the benefits of money spent on trail development from a health standpoint. The conclusion is that for every dollar spent on trails nearly three dollars of public health benefits are produced.

The study is Cost-Benefit Analysis of Physical Activity Using Bike/Pedestrian Trails by Guijing Wang, PhD, Caroline A. Macera, PhD, Barbara Scudder-Soucie, Med, Tom Schmid, PhD, Michael Pratt, MD, MPH, David Buchner, MD, MPH. It appeared in Journal: Health Promotion Practice; April 2005 Vol. 6, No. 2, 174-179

Abstract:

From a public health perspective, a cost-benefit analysis of using bike/pedestrian trails in Lincoln, Nebraska, to reduce health care costs associated with inactivity, was conducted. Data was obtained from the city's 1998 Recreational Trails Census Report and the literature. Per capita annual cost of using the trails was $209.28 ($59.28 construction and maintenance, $150.00 of equipment and travel). Per capita annual direct medical benefit of using the trails was $564.41.

The cost-benefit ratio was 2.94, which means that every $1 investment in trails for physical activity led to $2.94 in direct medical benefit. The sensitivity analyses indicated the ratios ranged from 1.65 to 13.40.

Therefore, building trails is cost beneficial from a public health perspective. The most sensitive parameter affecting the cost-benefit ratios were equipment and travel costs; however, even for the highest cost, every $1 investment in trails resulted in a greater return in direct medical benefit.

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