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J Phys Act Health. 2011 May;8(4):534-42.

User demographics and physical activity behaviors on a newly constructed urban rail/trail conversion.

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  • 1Department of Health and Exercise Science, Furman University, Greenville, SC, USA.



To examine demographic characteristics and physical activity (PA) behaviors of trail users on a newly constructed 2-mile urban rail/trail (ie, abandoned rail line converted to a recreational trail).


A systematic evaluation process was initiated to monitor PA behaviors using the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC).


Slightly more males (n=2578, 54%) than females (n=2198, 46%) were observed using the rail/trail since its inception. A significant age group difference (F=16.68, P<.001) was observed among users with the vast majority being adults (n=3317, 69%). Women were 2.2 times more likely than men (95% CI 1.7-3.0) to be sedentary rather than vigorously active adjusted for age and race. Whites were 2.8 times more likely than nonwhites (95% CI 2.4-3.2) to engage in vigorous activity rather than walking, adjusted for age and gender. Rail/trail users resided on average 2.89 miles from the trail.


The most frequent users of the rail/trail were male, white adults, and observed PA varied for gender and age. More research is needed to better understand differences in patterns of trail use by various population groups.

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