Fitness trails for continuing care retirement community residents: motivational cues to participation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The motivational elements necessary to encourage use of fitness trails by residents of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) was investigated. Previous research suggested that both the walking and exercise parts of these fitness trails are being used by only a small percentage of' the residents. A checklist was used to identify the number of motivational elements that were present in the design of the fitness trails at three CCRCs. A staff questionnaire was used to determine management involvement and fitness program specifics.

This research investigates the extent to which Jane Jacobs’ (1961) work with sidewalks in cities can be applied to the fitness trail within the CCRC. The research questions generated for this study were: To what extent is the success of the fitness trail dependent on the intricate mutual support given it by its surrounding elements? Does a single activity or amenity contribute to the success of a fitness trail or is a variety of choices necessary for potential users to experience? Is this aspect of choice essential to participant satisfaction?

The analysis identified several elements that may contribute to the use of a fitness trail by older adults. The use of the concept of tangible rewards by one of the CCRCs contributed to a significantly greater percentage of resident use.