Park Marketing Strategies, Park Conditions, and Park Use: A Longitudinal National Study of Parks

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Parks present opportunities for recreational physical activity and mental relaxation; however, they are underutilized. Methods: The authors examined how changes in management directly and indirectly impacted park use. Using a national sample of 169 parks sampled from 25 cities, the authors linked park management reported via surveys with systematic direct observation of park use, park-based physical activity, and park conditions observed during the spring/summers of 2014 and 2016. The authors used structural equation modeling to estimate longitudinal pathways from changes in park management and conditions to changes in park use. Results: Increases in subsidized meal offerings and greater use of marketing to promote park events predicted increased person-hours of total weekly park use. Pathways predicting park use varied across user and activity type. Conclusion: The authors’ findings suggest that changing park management practices combined with park conditions may promote park use.

Richardson is with RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, PA. Han, Williamson, and Cohen are with RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, USA.

Richardson (arichard@rand.org) is corresponding author.
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