Previous research suggests that access to recreational resources might influence physical activity. Little research, however, has looked at both access to and the characteristics of recreational resources and physical activity.
Access to recreational resources was assessed by counting the number of recreational resources in the geographic area. Resource characteristics were assessed through systematic observation (audits) or telephone interview of each resource. Access and characteristics in 2 counties in the St Louis, MO, metropolitan area with different prevalence rates of physical activity were compared using the critical-ratio (Z) test with P value for the difference between 2 independent proportions, given that the count and sample size were used to assess differences in access to equipment and presence of physical disorder. Financial accessibility was assessed for each facility.
Data indicated significant differences in access and characteristics between the 2 areas that mimic differences in levels of physical activity.
Our findings suggest that both access to and characteristics of recreational resources can contribute to differential rates of physical activity.