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Background:

Neighborhood parks play an important role in promoting physical activity. We examined the effect of activity area, condition, and presence of supporting features on number of park users and park-based physical activity levels.

Methods:

37 parks and 154 activity areas within parks were assessed during summer 2008 for their features and park-based physical activity. Outcomes included any park use, number of park users, mean and total energy expenditure. Independent variables included type and condition of activity area, supporting features, size of activity area, gender, and day of week. Multilevel models controlled for clustering of observations at activity area and park levels.

Results:

Type of activity area was associated with number of park users, mean and total energy expenditure, with basketball courts having the highest number of users and total energy expenditure, and playgrounds having the highest mean energy expenditure. Condition of activity areas was positively associated with number of basketball court users and inversely associated with number of green space users and total green space energy expenditure. Various supporting features were both positively and negatively associated with each outcome.

Conclusions:

This study provides evidence regarding characteristics of parks that can contribute to achieving physical activity goals within recreational spaces.

Rung is with the Epidemiology Program, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health, New Orleans, LA. Mowen is with the Dept of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Broyles is with the Dept of Population Science, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA. Gustat is with the Dept of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health