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Andrew J. Mowen and Birgitta L. Baker

Background:

The United States’ first National Physical Activity Plan is now under development. This plan follows the release of new physical activity guidelines and seeks to address the nation’s ongoing physical inactivity and obesity crisis. For this plan to be successful, all facets of American culture need to unify behind its recommendations and action steps. Guidance for this plan involves active participation from a variety of sectors, including the park, recreation, fitness, and sport (PRFS) sector.

Purpose:

In this white paper, we discuss the potential of the PRFS sector in addressing America’s physical inactivity. Specifically, we provide a brief description, history, and scope of the PRFS sector; present evidence concerning linkages between this sector and physical activity; and discuss existing challenges and emerging opportunities for promoting physical activity. We conclude by suggesting PRFS recommendations to promote physical activity based on anticipated effectiveness, reach, scope, and sustainability.

Methods:

Academic articles, professional reports, and physical activity plans were reviewed to summarize the evidence concerning PRFS sector strategies for increasing physical activity. Recommendations: Based on our review, we propose several sector-specific proximity, place, program, partnership, promotion, people, policy, and performance indicator recommendations for improving physical activity in the United States.

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Judy Kruger, Andrew J. Mowen and John Librett

Background:

The purposes of this study were to review surveillance of recreation and park use to determine adaptations for tracking leisure time physical activity and increasing collaboration to achieve public health goals.

Methods:

Surveillance in public health and parks and recreation and discussions at the 2006 Cooper Institute conference were reviewed.

Results:

This review suggested four actions to improve collaborative surveillance of leisure time physical activity and active park use. The proposals are to incorporate more detailed measures of leisure time physical activity and active park visits into park surveillance; include key park, recreation, and leisure items in public health surveillance; assess active park visits and leisure time physical activity more frequently; and establish public health physical activity objectives for parks and recreation and outdoor recreation participation.

Conclusions:

These proposals can facilitate collaboration between public health and parks and recreation and exploration of active park use and outdoor recreation in relation to health.

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Julie S. Son, Deborah L. Kerstetter, Andrew J. Mowen and Laura L. Payne

There is a dearth of research conducted on the possible relationship between the global self-regulatory process of selective optimization with compensation (SOC) and leisure-time physical activity. Even less is known about SOC’s relationship to other social-cognitive factors known to influence physical activity. Therefore, this study examined the relationships between global self-regulation, constraint self-regulation, outcome expectations, and leisure-time physical activity with a sample of middle-aged and older adults (N = 271). One of the objectives was to test the interactive effect of global self-regulation and outcome expectations on constraint self-regulation. Another objective was to test the interactive effect of global self-regulation and outcome expectations on multiple measures of leisure-time physical activity. The authors found significant interactions between global self-regulation and outcome expectations for constraint self-regulation and duration of leisure-time physical activity. They discuss these results in terms of their implications for health-promotion programs to increase the leisure-time physical activity of people 50 years of age and older.

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Ariane L. Rung, Andrew J. Mowen, Stephanie T. Broyles and Jeanette Gustat

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.

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Joseph T. Walker, Andrew J. Mowen, William W. Hendricks, Judy Kruger, James R. Morrow Jr. and Kelly Bricker

Background:

The Physical Activity in Parks Setting (PA-PS) instrument is a series of survey questions designed by a consortium of public health and leisure research scholars to gauge park-based physical activity for use in civilian, noninstitutionalized populations. This paper introduces this self-reported instrument and provides test-retest reliability results.

Methods:

Data to test the instrument reliability were collected during 2 waves in 2008 through the California Outdoor Recreation Opinions and Attitudes Telephone Survey. To conduct test-retest reliability we examined the agreement between 100 randomly reselected respondents from the first wave of respondents (n = 2004) that answered the same survey within 21 to 30 days of the initial administration.

Results:

The reliability of measures that categorized individual park use and visitation with others provided moderate levels of agreement (Kappa = 0.44 to 0.64). Questions about park features, facilities and amenity use, and specific park-based physical activity participation were of fair to substantial agreement (Kappa = 0.21 to 0.90) depending on the item in question.

Conclusion:

The results from these test-retest reliability analyses suggest the PA-PS items were reliable and should be considered in future population surveys that assess park visitation patterns and park-based physical activity levels.

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Ariane L. Bedimo-Rung, Jessica L. Thomson, Andrew J. Mowen, Jeanette Gustat, Bradley J. Tompkins, Patricia K. Strikmiller and Melinda S. Sothern

Background:

Parks provide environments for physical activity, yet little is known about how natural disasters affect them or how these disasters alter physical activity. Our objectives were to (1) describe the development of an instrument to assess park conditions following a hurricane and (2) document the conditions of New Orleans’ parks 3 and 6 months after Hurricane Katrina.

Methods:

A Post-Hurricane Assessment (PHA) instrument was developed and implemented in 54 parks 3 and 6 months post-hurricane.

Results:

Summary scores of the Park Damage Index and the Neighborhood Damage Index showed improvement between 3 and 6 months of data collection. Parks and neighborhoods most affected by the hurricane were located in the most- and least-affluent areas of the city.

Conclusion:

The PHA proved to be a promising tool for assessing park conditions in a timely manner following a natural disaster and allowed for the creation of summary damage scores to correlate to community changes.