It has been proven that increased physical activity leads to improved health. Trails provide safe, inexpensive, and accessible places for people of all ages and abilities to exercise (i.e. walking, running, and biking). Increased levels of consistent physical activity are correlated with healthier outcomes and reduced mortality rates in both young and older adults. “Regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure, and exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension” (Source: Surgeon General Executive Summary). Also, tree canopies along greenways absorb air pollutants, thereby decreasing public exposure to respiratory illnesses leading to healthier lungs.
The East Coast Greenway in the Triangle Region has seen the returns of this benefit. This system of greenways has changed the ability of residents to get out and live active lifestyles. A boost in wellness has saved over $14 million in healthcare costs per year, with 3,592,000 hours of physical activity being seen on the trails per year (Source: The Impact of Greenways in the Triangle).