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The Association of Natural Elements With Physical Activity Intensity During Trail Use by Older Adults

When promoting trail-use among older adults, natural elements should be considered.

photo credit: Matthew bennett, unsplash

Older Adults’ Trail Use


Anna Elizabeth Price, Julian A. Reed, Savannah Long,Andrea L. Maslow, and Steven P. Hooker

Background: Public health efforts to promote trail use among older adults could be an effective strategy for increasing physical activity among older adults. However, research is needed to better understand factors that influence older adults’ use of trails.

Purpose: To examine the association between variations in natural elements(ie, season, weather, temperature) and older adults’ overall trail use and physical activity intensity during trail-use.

Methods: A rail-trail in South Carolina was systematically evaluated (2006–2009) using The System forObserving Play and Recreation in Communities.

Results: The majority (74.2%) of the 1053 older trail users observed were walking; 25.9% were observed in vigorous activity. Older adults were most often observed using the trail in the spring (40.1%), sunny weather (76.8%), and moderate temperatures (56.2%). Significant differences in activity type by natural element variables were identified.

Conclusions: When promoting trail-use among older adults, natural elements should be considered.

Published January 2012

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