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Physical Activity: Park, Trail, and Greenway Infrastructure Interventions when Implemented Alone

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This is a brief summary of the CPSTF finding and systematic review evidence for Physical Activity: Park, Trail, and Greenway Infrastructure Interventions when Implemented Alone. Read a complete summary of the systematic review and CPSTF finding.

This information is also available in a PDF version pdf icon [PDF - 168 KB].

Summary of Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) finds insufficient evidence to determine whether park, trail, and greenway infrastructure improvements increase physical activity when they are implemented without additional interventions.

CPSTF recommends park, trail, and greenway infrastructure interventions combined with additional interventions.

Major Findings

The CPSTF finding of insufficient evidence is based on evidence from a systematic review of 17 studies (search period through July 2020). Evidence showed interventions led to the following:

  • Inconsistent effects on physical activity (15 studies)
  • A median increase of 32.1% in use of the park, trail, or greenway improvements (9 studies)

What are Park, Trail, and Greenway Infrastructure Interventions?

These interventions improve the built and natural environments by creating or enhancing one of the following public locations for physical activity, relaxation, social interaction, and enjoyment.

  • Parks—designated public areas that often combine greenery with paths, facilities for physical activity and recreation, and places for relaxation and social interaction.
  • Trails and Greenways—routes for walking, hiking, or cycling in urban, suburban, or rural areas (e.g., “rails to trails” conversion projects). These may involve street conversions that provide opportunities for walking and cycling (most often in urban areas).

Why is This Important?

  • Physical activity has immediate benefits, such as reducing anxiety and improving sleep.1
  • Regular physical activity can produce long-term health benefits, including the prevention or reduction of risk for more than 20 chronic diseases like heart disease, some cancers, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.1
  • Overall, 11.1% of aggregate healthcare expenditures are associated with inadequate physical activity (i.e., inactive and insufficiently active levels).2
  • To attain substantial health benefits, federal physical activity guidelines External Web Site Icon recommend adults perform at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.3

Learn More

CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity External Web Site Icon

Active People, Healthy NationSM External Web Site Icon

References

1 CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Benefits of physical activity. Atlanta (GA): 2021. Accessed 12/22/21. Available from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.

2 Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Pratt M, Yang Z, Adams K. Inadequate physical activity and health care expenditures in the United States. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 2015;57(4):315-23.

3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington (DC): 2018. Access 1/3/22. Available from URL: https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf.


Established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) is an independent, nonfederal panel of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the director of CDC. CPSTF provides information for a wide range of decision makers on programs, services, and other interventions aimed at improving population health. Although CDC provides administrative, scientific, and technical support for CPSTF, the recommendations developed are those of CPSTF and do not undergo review or approval by CDC. Find more information at www.thecommunityguide.org.