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Is There a Trail or Park Nearby? Most Likely You Are in Motion

Now it's also scientific: If there are recreational trails, parkland and open spaces in your area, your chances of being active and healthy are greater!

Many studies have proven that regular physical activity improves health and this is true for almost any person of any age. The positive effects are expressed in terms of both physical and mental health, and therefore, physical activity contributes to the quality of life and reduces the risk of contracting different diseases.

A study conducted at the University of Missouri and the University of Minnesota in the United States and published in Preventive Medicine magazine found that in areas where there are more hiking and recreational trails and forestland, the chances of obesity among young people are lower. Researchers assumed that as a result of having multiple options for exercising – in these cases, for walking – the population is more physically active, and more often the result is that they suffer less from being overweight.

Data were collected from different counties across Minnesota, and researchers compared the extent of physical activity  and obesity of teens in grades 9 through 12, compared to the availability of outdoor recreational resources and forestland in their area. They concluded that there was an association between increased access to recreational trails and lower obesity rates. In contrast, in areas where there were more nature reserves and parks that did not offer hiking trails, physical activity rates were lower. The reason for this is that in nature reserves one enjoys nature and the green environment, not necessarily engaging in physical activity. And access to designated trails may also increase the extent of physical activity : walking, running and cycling.

The fact that walking is considered the most accessible, simplest and easiest activity can actually explain the findings. Walking is a moderate aerobic activity that moves the body in a balanced and harmonious movement that positively affects the body and mind. It is suitable for every age, gender and weight, individual, group and family. Walking is relatively accessible to anyone and financial resources are not needed.

Looking for information about places you can exercise in close to home, such as sports facilities, walking trails and cycling lanes?

Further reading

Full study on the Science Direct Website