Online Program

Pathways to health: Trail use associated with self-rated health and healthy weight status among adults in South Carolina

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Sarah Morgan Hughey, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Julian Reed, Ed.D., M.P.H., Department of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC
Andrew T. Kaczynski, Ph.D., Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Background/Purpose: Trails are important community resources providing low-cost opportunities for physical activity (PA). Understanding relationships between trail use and health has the ability to impact community-level policies regarding trail construction and promotion. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between trail use and self-rated health and weight status. 

Methods: The Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail (GHS SRT) is a paved 18.6-mile trail that has become an integral amenity to promote active living in Greenville County, SC. In 2014, a random-digit-dial survey of Greenville County residents (n=639) assessed whether respondents used the trail in the past 6 months, self-rated health (5-point Likert scale, 1=poor, 5=excellent), height and weight, and demographic information. Height and weight were used to calculate body mass index (BMI) and respondents were categorized as normal weight or overweight/obese. Linear and logistic regression, controlling for several demographic covariates, were used to analyze associations between trail use and self-rated health and weight status.  

Results: Approximately 25% of respondents reported using the trail. The average self-rated health score was 3.44 and 64% of respondents were overweight/obese. Trail users reported better health than non-trail users (β=0.44, p<0.01). Trail users were half as likely to be overweight/obese than non-trail users (OR=0.52, 95% CI=0.31, 0.86). 

Conclusions: This study suggests that trails are key community facilities positively influencing weight status and overall perceptions of health. Such findings are critical to support policies regarding trail development and extensions as well as maintenance and promotion of these important active living resources.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Describe the association between self-rated health and trail use. Identify differences in body mass index between trail users and trail non-users. Discuss how health-related trail research can be used to influence community-level policies for trail development, maintenance, and promotion.

Keyword(s): Built Environment, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a research assistant on this project regarding trails and physical activity for several years. This project was the third administration of a community survey and I added two questions (i.e., self-rated health and height and weight)to specifically examine the objectives presented in this abstract. I completed all analyses and writing for this abstract. My scientific interests focus on physical activity promotion in community settings.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.