CPSTF Recommends Park, Trail, and Greenway Infrastructure Interventions to Increase Physical Activity

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends park, trail, and greenway infrastructure interventions combined with additional interventions, such as structured programs or community awareness, to increase physical activity.

The CPSTF finding is based on a systematic review of 21 studies from 20 publications. Results showed a 18.3% median increase in the number of people who used the parks, trails, or greenways and a 17% median increase in the number of people who used them to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. CPSTF finds insufficient evidence for park, trail, and greenway infrastructure interventions when implemented alone.

Creating or enhancing access to places for physical activity, such as parks, trails, and greenways, is a key strategy featured in Active People, Healthy NationSM a national initiative led by CDC to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027.

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).
What are additional interventions?

Additional interventions include one or more of the following:

  • Community engagement
  • Public awareness activities
  • Programs that offer structured opportunities for physical activity and social interaction
  • Access enhancements such as transportation connections, street crossings, and expanded hours of operation

Why is this important?

Physical activity leads to immediate and long-term health benefits. Physical activity relieves stress and improves sleep and brain health. It can also reduce the risks for more than 20 chronic diseases like heart disease, some cancers, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Spending time in nature has also been linked with health benefits that include reductions in blood pressure, stress, and depression.

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