Andrew T. Kaczynski, Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis, Tanis J. Hastmann and Gina M. Besenyi
Parks are important settings for physical activity (PA), but few studies have documented the actual behaviors of park users. The purpose of this study was to examine the individual and joint effects of various park user demographic characteristics on observed PA intensity levels.
Four parks were observed using the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities. Observers recorded the age group, gender, race, and intensity level of all park users in 83 activity areas over two weekends at each park. Logistic regression examined whether male/White, female/White, and male/non-White users were more likely than female/non-White users to be observed engaging in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) rather than sedentary activity across 4 age groups.
In total, 8612 users were observed during the study. In the child age group, male/White users were significantly more likely to be observed in MVPA than female/non-White users. For teens, female/White and male/White users were less likely to engage in MVPA. For both adults and seniors, female/White and male/White users were more likely to be observed in MVPA.
Observations revealed significant differences in intensity levels across gender, age, and race groups. Future interventions should emphasize park design that promotes increased MVPA among diverse groups.
Lisa Groshong, Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis, Andrew T. Kaczynski, J. Aaron Hipp and Gina M. Besenyi
Public parks hold promise for promoting population-level PA, but studies show a significant portion of park use is sedentary. Past research has documented the effectiveness of message-based strategies for influencing diverse behaviors in park settings and for increasing PA in nonpark contexts. Therefore, to inform message-based interventions (eg, point-ofdecision prompts) to increase park-based PA, the purpose of this study was to elicit insights about key attitudes, perceived norms, and personal agency that affect park use and park-based PA in low-income urban neighborhoods.
This study used 6 focus groups with youth and adults (n = 41) from low-income urban areas in Kansas City, MO, to examine perceptions of key attitudinal outcomes and motivations, perceived norms, key referents, and personal agency facilitators and constraints that affect park use and park-based PA.
Participant attitudes reflected the importance of parks for mental and physical health, with social interaction and solitude cited as key motivations. Of 10 themes regarding perceived norms, influential others reflected participants’ ethnic makeup but little consensus emerged among groups. Social and safety themes were cited as both facilitators and constraints, along with park offerings and setting.
Information about attitudes, perceived norms, and personal agency can increase understanding of theoretically derived factors that influence park-based PA and help park and health professionals create communication strategies to promote PA.