The Role of Park Proximity and Social Support in Shaping Park Visitation, Physical Activity, and Perceived Health Among Older Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health

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Andrew Mowen
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Elizabeth Orsega-Smith
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Laura Payne
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Barbara Ainsworth
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Geoffrey Godbey
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Background:

Health scholars purport that park proximity and social support promotes physical activity and health. However, few studies examine the combined contributions of these constructs in shaping physical activity and health.

Purpose:

In this study, the contributions of environmental and social characteristics in shaping park use, physical activity, and health are examined.

Methods:

A survey was distributed to 1515 older adults in Cleveland, Ohio. Results: Path analysis indicated that social support was directly related to health. Perceived park walking proximity was related to physical activity and health through park use frequency. Park proximity was directly related to park use duration.

Conclusions:

Results suggest that environmental and social characteristics contribute to physical activity and health, but perceptions may also be a prerequisite to park use, daily physical activity, and health.

Mowen and Godbey are with the Dept of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802. Orsega-Smith is with the Dept of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. Payne is with the Dept of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820. Ainsworth is with the Dept of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ 85212.

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