What is a Fitness Trail?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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A fitness trail, also known as a parcourse, is a trail, path, or course that promotes physical fitness by encouraging those moving along the trail to engage in various types of exercise. A typical fitness trail includes the path suitable for walking, running, or cycling along with various exercise stations along the way. Users of the fitness trail can stop at the stations and either use the equipment to perform various exercises or may simply follow posted instructions for performing exercises that do not require special equipment. It is possible to find fitness trails in both outdoor and indoor settings. Since home exercise equipment became more affordable and available, fitness trails are not as common as they used to be, though they still exist in some places.


In the 1960s and 1970s, people became concerned about physical fitness and began to engage in a regular program of exercise. For many, walking and running were cheap and effective ways to keep in shape. In order to encourage regular exercise and to increase the effectiveness of these aerobic workouts, some communities transformed biking and walking paths into fitness trails. The types of exercises that could be performed on the fitness trail depended largely on the trail's developers. Some trails were set up more like obstacle courses with various climbing walls for exercisers to scale, while others simply provided space off the trail for performing other types of exercises. Equipment could include chin-up bars, balance beams, or even benches on which to lie while performing abdominal exercises.

Indoor fitness trails may be less common than outdoor trails, but they still exist in some places, including shopping malls. While it is not possible to run or cycle in a shopping mall, many walkers appreciate being able to exercise in a safe, well-lit, climate-controlled environment. As many shopping malls are quite large, they can be ideal environments for those who like to walk long distances or for a long period of time. Knowing this and realizing that these walkers could be a source of business, some shopping mall managers established fitness trails within the mall, offering signs that help walkers measure the distance of their walks and encouraging them to stop in its stations to perform basic stretching or other types of simple exercise. Similarly, some fitness clubs likewise offer running and walking tracks as an alternative to treadmills and stair climbers and may embrace the fitness trail concept by adding stations for exercise along the track.



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