Public health has historically been concerned with eliminating factors associated with disease, disability, and early mortality, whereas leisure studies has emerged from the need to create and manage recreational opportunities and promote leisure activities and experiences. Coincidently, both fields have progressed toward an appreciation of the role of active leisure in enhancing a population’s health and well-being. Factors associated with making choices to be physically active in leisure time are complex and multidimensional. This paper provides historical perspectives from public health and leisure studies (i.e., parks and recreation), describes models used to understand physically active leisure from both fields, and suggests direction for future collaborative research between public health and parks, recreation, and leisure researchers.
Ainsworth is with the Dept of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ 85212. Mannell is with the Dept of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1. Behrens is with the Dept of Health Promotion & Education, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Caldwell is with the Center for Leisure and Health Research, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.