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J Environ Public Health. 2017;2017:8608432. doi: 10.1155/2017/8608432. Epub 2017 Aug 8.

Opportunities for Promoting Physical Activity in Rural Communities by Understanding the Interests and Values of Community Members.

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.
Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
Division of Public Health Sciences and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.



Physical activity (PA) has well-established health benefits, but most Americans do not meet national guidelines. In southeastern Missouri, trails have been developed to increase rates of PA. Although this has had success, broad-scale interventions will be needed to improve rates further. In this study, we surveyed residents of southeastern Missouri to identify ways to improve rates of PA.


We conducted a telephone survey in 2015 of adults (n = 524) from eight rural Missouri towns that had walking trails, regarding their activities and interests.


Forty percent of respondents reported both walking and meeting PA recommendations, 29% reported walking but not meeting PA recommendations, and the remainder did not walk or did not answer. Respondents who used the trails were significantly more likely to meet PA recommendations (odds ratio = 2.7; 95% confidence interval = 1.7, 4.5). Certain values and interests that may encourage PA or draw people to trails were common.


The group that walked but did not meet PA recommendations would be the ideal group to target for intervention, which could focus on their reported values and interests (e.g., personal relationships, being outdoors). Use of walking trails was associated with meeting PA recommendations.

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