Use and Nonuse of a Rail Trail Conversion for Physical Activity: Implications for Promoting Trail Use

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Exercise Science


There is limited research examining both use and nonuse of trails for physical activity. Purpose: Such research might enable health educators to better promote physical activity on trails. Methods: We used random digit dialing methods to survey 726 respondents in 2012. Results:The majority (75.1%) of respondents reported not using the trail in the previous 6 months. The odds of using the trail were greater among adults compared to older adults and those with a high school degree or college degree compared to those with less than a high school degree. Fifteen percent of trail users reported using the trail regularly (i.e., at least 30 minutes, 3 days/week). Trail characteristics preferred by trail users and reasons for not using the trail among nonusers were also examined. Discussion: These findings might be useful for health educators promoting physical activity on trails. Translation to Health Education Practice: Persons promoting physical activity on trails should highlight those trail characteristics preferred by trail users, including the trails’ convenient location, beauty, and design. There is an opportunity to promote trail use among older adults and those with low education levels; promoting active transportation on trails might be especially useful among those with low education levels.