Prevention Research Center Research

Core Research Project 2004-2009

Guided by our Community Advisory Board, the core research project for this Prevention Research Center is entitled "Increasing Physical Activity in Rural Communities". This year-round walking program was designed to help communities identify local resources that residents can use to engage in regular physical activity. In partnership with Parks and Trails NY, a walking program was devised that uses school buildings for walking in the cold weather and local segments of rail trails during the warmer weather. By delineating these two alternatives within rural communities, residents can begin to accrue the health benefits associated with engaging in consistent walking throughout the entire year. While all residents are eligible to participate in the walking program, study inclusion requires that the subject be at least 30 years of age and not currently meeting the Surgeon General's recommendation for physical activity.

This walking project was created as a result of an earlier study conducted by researchers at this PRC. In this study, adults with diabetes who resided in rural, medically underserved communities in upstate New York, were surveyed regarding their level of physical activity, the social and community resources of support and the barriers to diabetes prevention and control. Researchers found that physical activity levels were particularly low and multiple barriers to physical activity included lack of sidewalks, cold weather, uneven terrain and inconvenient locations for walking. This project is expected to be launched in two communities per year over the next three years. The communities thus far are:

  • Greenville, NY where 76 residents participated in a pilot of this program.
  • Millerton, Northeast, and Amenia, NY in which the Harlem Valley Walks! program was launched in November 2006 in the Webutuck High School and the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
  • Wurtsboro and Mamakating, NY which have launched Mamakating Walks in November 2006 at the Chase Elementary School and the Wurtsboro D & H Canal Trail.
  • Fort Plain, NY, in which community members created Fort Plain Pacers who walk inside their high school.
  • Fort Edwards, NY, whose walking program is called Fort Edwards Exercises Together (F.E.E.T.).
  • The Stillwater Steppers and the Salem Walking Program became operational in November 2008.

Taken together, there are over 1000 registered walkers as a result of this core project.

Some of the materials used in the program include:

Harlem Valley Walks brochure
Mamakating Walks Guidebook

Principal Investigator: Brian D. Fisher, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: Mary P. Gallant, Ph.D.,MPH
Research Coordinator: Anna Zendell, M.S.W.