Trails = Better neighbourhoods, better fitness

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Better neighbourhoods, better fitness
Last Updated Thu, 28 Aug 2003 13:42:31

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – Trails and streetlights are important elements in influencing how much people exercise, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina discovered access to trails and other places suitable for exercise are especially key.

The report, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, examined the link between neighbourhood characteristics and level of exercise.

Researchers called a sample of 1,796 randomly selected adults in the U.S. and asked questions ranging from how much the person exercises to whether there were sidewalks, trails or biking lanes in their communities.

They looked at rural, suburban and urban areas.

“We found no association between leisure activity and unattended dogs and only a weak link with heavy traffic,” said Dr. Sara Huston, one of the study’s authors.

“But people who reported having access to places for exercise of various kinds and those who reported neighbourhood trails were significantly more likely to be getting the recommended amount of physical activity.”

Huston said the survey included a diverse population. Researchers found blacks, American Indians and those with lower incomes and less education were less likely to exercise but only because of their “less favourable” neighbourhoods.

Huston says the study was meant as a springboard to find out why American adults have such high rates of obesity.

One recent study attributed more than 280,000 deaths in the U.S. to people being overweight or obese.