NYMC Faculty Publications

Association Between Trail Use and Self-Rated Wellness and Health

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BMC public health

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BACKGROUND: Incorporating trail use into daily activity routines could be an important venue to increase a population's physical activity. This study presents important health impacts of trail use.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 8 trails throughout the State of Indiana. A mix of urban, suburban, and rural trails were selected. Recruitment sessions were completed during four 1-week periods throughout the study in various locations and at various times of day on each trail between April and October 2017. Data were collected through online and paper surveys. For each type of physical activity, a generalized additive model for self-rated wellness and health was built adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, amounts of physical activity on trails, mood status, sleep pattern, diet and smoking habit. The plots of estimated smoothing spline function with 95% confidence band were pictured. All statistical analyses were conducted using R.

RESULTS: The final sample size included 1299 trail users; 92% were White, 79% aged 18-65 years, 71% were married and 56% were male. Biking, walking and running were the main activities with 52, 29 and 19%, respectively. Female to male ratio was 3:2 in walkers vs. 2:3 in runners and bikers. Runners were significantly younger than the other two groups. Runners also had the highest percentage of college graduates and above, the highest rate of employment, the highest income, and the lowest percentage of being retired among the three groups. They more commonly used the trails alone than the walkers and bikers. Bikers had the highest rate of job satisfaction. They also showed a better mean score of mood than that the walkers and runners. There was a linear association between walking and self-rated wellness and health, and a curved association between running/biking and self-rated wellness and health. Running < 6.5 miles/week and biking > 14 miles/week were associated with steeper rise in self-rated wellness and health.

CONCLUSIONS: Employed educated married middle-aged people had the highest prevalence of walking, running or biking. The higher the walking, the higher self-rated wellness and health. A similar association was observed for running up to 6.5 miles/week or biking > 14 miles/week.

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