The Benefits of Walking and the Importance of Trails in Ontario
The following facts and figures have been gathered from a variety of studies and
surveys. Sources are listed.
Physical Activity of Ontario Population
Physical Activity of CanadiansLooking at Canada's population as a whole and focussing on the 20 to 64 age group, 41% of women and 42% of men were physically active in 2000/01.
Canadian Community Health Survey: A first look 2000/01
The good news is physical activity does not have to be very hard to provide health benefits. For example, walking - one of Canada's most enjoyed forms of physical activity - is fun and can help people feel great! Brisk walking for 30 minutes, 4 to 7 days of the week, will provide many health benefits.
These health benefits include reducing the risk of morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, and certain cancers.
Regular walking has also been associated with improved mental health, including reduced anxiety, tension and depression and improved self-esteem.
Regular walkers will experience increased energy level and stamina, better sleep and lower stress levels. Improved muscle tone in the shin, calves and thighs will also be noticed.
Durham Lives! - A committee led by the public health department in the Regional
Municipality of Durham, Ontario. Durham Lives promotes physical activity, healthy
eating and a smoke-free community to reduce heart disease and cancer.
The following is from a report on a walking initiative launched in Sonning Common, England in 1995-1996. It was provided by Peter Ashcroft, Walking for Health Co-ordinator, Countryside Agency, England.
Health Walks: Reported health benefits
Walking ranked first (82%) amongst physical activities of Canadians. (2000 Physical
Activity Monitor, CFLRI)
85% of Canadians walk for leisure and recreational reasons. 82% of Canadians
confirmed that they would ideally like to walk more often than they currently do.
Trails can provide Canadians of all ages with this opportunity. (CFLRI 1995/Environics
1998, as reported in Trail Monitor, published by Go for Green)
Top five reasons for walking as a mode of transportation in Canada are:
BARRIERS TO WALKING
The principal barriers to walking as a mode of transportation reported by Canadians are:
Two in three (64%) of all Canadians live within a 30 minute walk (2.5 km) of a routine
destination like work, leisure, shopping, friends/family or school. The data show that
living within a thirty minute walk of a destination greatly increases the likelihood
(Summary Report, 1998 National Survey on Active Transportation, conducted by
Environics International on behalf of Go for Green)
This is the conclusion of a study undertaken by St. Louis University School of Public
Health in Missouri. The study, titled "Promoting Physical Activity in Rural
Communities: Walking Trail Access, Use and Effects" was conducted in 1999.
Researchers found that 39% of people who had access to trails used them and
walked more because of this access.
In a survey of hikers, 48% were male, 52% female. 79% were under 50 years of age and of this number 34.6% were 29 or younger while 44.4% were between the ages of 30 and 49. Nearly 20% of the total number of respondents were between the ages of 50 and 69.
Respondents were asked about memberships held in clubs and associations.
Research conducted along the 800 km Bruce Trail in 1994-1996 revealed the trail received 410,060 user visits over a 12-month period. Trail users' expenditures generated $26,084,817 direct economic impact, with a gross economic spin-off of $60,255,926 annually. These expenditures supported 1,138 full-time equivalent jobs in Ontario.
30 Years in the Making: A Comprehensive Economic Impact and User Study of the Bruce
Trail, 1997, Schutt