Economy, Environment and Health Benefit from Trails, Two New Studies Show

Trails contribute more than $8.2 billion to Washington state's economy, according to companion studies released by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

by American Trails Staff

Goose Rock Trail, Whidbey Island, Washington State

According to a press release from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, trails contribute more than $8.2 billion to Washington state’s economy.

"One study, Economic, Environmental, & Social Benefits of Recreational Trails in Washington State, estimates that trail-based activities improve health and reduce medical costs by more than $390 million a year for Washington residents. In addition, trails support 81,000 jobs annually.

“We know that trails provide a lot of benefits. People are healthier when they use trails, trails are good for local businesses and trails are better for the environment,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the state Recreation and Conservation Office. “It just makes sense that state and local leaders should invest in this valuable commodity. Not only will people benefit, but so will the state overall.”

A companion report, Health Benefits of Contact with Nature, looks at the health benefits associated with trails and other outdoor activities. It notes an abundance of benefits from hiking, biking and walking such as improved heart and lung fitness, fewer cardiovascular risk factors, fewer deaths and less coronary heart disease, cancer risk and obesity. It also notes that outdoor exercise, such as on trails, can improve mood, restore attention and decrease anger, depression and stress."

Read more here.

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