Women running

In-Depth Look at an Outdoor Recreational Trail

Overview


In 2015, the municipality of Peachland, BC, initiated The Peachland Outdoor Fitness Trail Program. One of the initial goals of the program was to create an easily accessible outdoor recreation area space which reduced barriers to fitness and allowed for social inclusion and recreational opportunities. Their goal was to “promote volunteerism among older adults and other generations, and help inspire groups and individuals to develop and deliver recreation programs that engage and empower people of all ages.” For this install, a variety of outdoor fitness equipment was placed along a 1km family and pet friendly trail. While promotion of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle were promoted to the whole community, the focus was on seniors age 55-85 who composed a large demographic of Peachland’s population. 


Purpose Statement & Objectives


The purpose of this report was to examine its success’ as well as ways to better improve the program and help further benefit the community of Peachland. These HK students who were involved with the development of the physical activities programs for the trail did a complete review on developmental, current and future aspects within the program. Their main goal however was to examine if the trail was serving its intended purpose which was “to provide the citizens of Peachland a safe, social and intergenerational opportunity to improve the quality of life”.


Setting of the Program/Other Similar Programs 


For this program the setting they chose was outdoors. As a large portion of their demographic are seniors they want to promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. “Outdoor programs have shown to be much more sustainable and able to reach and encourage seniors to participate in physical activity rather than very structured indoor programs.” Outdoor parks make the perfect setting to encourage health as they are easily accessible, low cost/ free for visitor use and promotes getting outdoors! “Even brief exposure to sunlight has shown to increase Vitamin D levels, which is important for maintaining bone health”. Some of the physical benefits this trail program reported were increased range of motion, improved cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory function, decreased muscle soreness and increased strength. “It has also been stated that outdoor fitness involves all aspects of the human body, which includes balance, coordination, strength, elasticity, mobility and agility. One thing to note about this install and the other similar programs they mention is that “modern outdoor exercise equipment is weather resistant, requires little to no maintenance and is made easy-to-use.” The key points I would add to this statement is that the equipment should also be tamperproof which is essential in parks as you want to lower/eliminate the chance of vandalism/destruction and that it is bio-mechanically correct and safe to use for all users. Each piece of equipment should come with instructional labels that indicate appropriate users, warnings and how to operate the equipment properly. 

This report goes into detail about possible ideas to incorporate within your trail program. They take user feedback into consideration when determining what worked well and what could be improved for future projects. To learn more about the pros and cons of all aspects of an outdoor recreation trail install, check out this in-depth report!