A Descriptive Examination of the Most Frequently Used Activity Settings in 25 Community Parks Using Direct Observation

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purpose was to examine 9 adult activity settings in 25 community parks to determine the most and least frequently used by gender, physical-activity (PA) intensity, and ethnicity.


All activity settings were identified, measured, and cataloged with GIS measures using the SOPARC direct observation instrument. Each setting was assessed 4 times a day for 7 consecutive days.


Significantly more male adults were observed at the 25 parks (1598 versus 946; 63% versus 37%). Nine hundred fifty-eight (60%) male adults and 771 (81.1%) female adults used the paved trails. The second most heavily used activity setting for male adults was the softball and baseball fields (n = 239, 14.9%), and female adults chose to use the swimming pools (n = 45, 4.5%). Whites participated in considerably more vigorous PA than minorities.


Paved trails were only in 5 of the 25 parks but were the most frequently used activity setting.

The authors are with the Dept of Health and Exercise Science, Furman University, Greenville, SC 29613.