Water Trails & Paddling


Water Trail Toolkit – Health Benefits

Water trails provide a variety of health benefits for local communities.

  • Because water trails and water walkways encourage greater physical activity, they have been associated with decreased health care costs and rates of obesity.
  • Other specific health benefits from paddling sports include improved cardiovascular fitness and increased muscle strength. Paddling sports provide low impact resistance that is beneficial for muscles yet easy on joints and bones. 
  • The surgeon general has recognized non-motorized boating as an acceptable excercise to replace more traditional methods, such as running.
  • Studies have shown that increased exposure to natural environments is linked to improved mental health and can combat many conditions, such as stress, anxiety, depression etc. Additionally, the communal nature of recreational paddling improves interpersonal relationships and community bonding.
Resources Highlighting the Health Benefits of Water Trails, Paddle Sports and Outdoor Recreation:
Data demonstrating the health benefits of water trails are extremely important when working to gain the support of the community and local officials. Find helpful resources below or check out the GA Water Trails homepage for quick national and statewide statistics on outdoor recreation and watersports.


 1. Jackson, R.J., Watson, T., Tsui, A., Shulaker, B., Hopp, S., and Popovic, M. (2014). “Urban River Parkways: An Essential Tool for Public Health.”  Center for Occupation and Environmental Health UCLA. http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Urban-River-Parkways-Full-Report_1.pdf>. 
2. “Health Benefits of Non-Motorized Boating.” (2008). California Department of Boating and Waterways. https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/pages/28702/files/nm_sec_8-health_benefits.pdf 
3. “Paddle Power: Groundbreaking Canoe Project to Boost Youngsters’ Health and Jobs Prospects.” (2015). Northern and Shell Media Publications. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/555947/Canoe-trail-will-help-disadvantage-youngsters-improve-their-health>. 
4. Gascon, M., Zijlema, W., Vert, C., White, M. P., & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J. (2017). “Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: A systematic review of quantitative studies.” International Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health, 220(8), 1207–1221. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28843736 








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