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Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis, Ingrid E. Schneider and Mark A. Pereira

Background:

Public parks are increasingly recognized as important places that facilitate physical activity. Despite the presence of parks, constraints to recreation and physical activity at parks exist. As the health benefits identified with physical activity require long-term and regular activity, it is important to examine factors pertaining to physical activity participation beyond initiation. This study explored differences in reported constraints to park based physical activity and negotiation strategies by physical activity stage of change.

Methods:

Data were collected among visitors to one Minnesota state park via onsite and follow-up questionnaires.

Results:

The average visitor had a healthier weight than the average U.S. and Minnesota adult and the majority of visitors were meeting the physical activity recommendations (86.4%). Respondents in the inactive/insufficient stages were more constrained and used fewer negotiation strategies than respondents in the maintenance stage.

Conclusions:

Results both support and expand on previous research findings. Specifically, this study supports research which indicates the adoption and maintenance of physical activity are influenced by different individual, social and environmental factors, and expands the research base by examining constraints and negotiation at different physical activity stages in a park setting. Implications of these findings provide directions for future stage-based intervention efforts.

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Megan Kelly Cronan, Kimberly J. Shinew, Ingrid Schneider, Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis and Deborah Chavez

Background:

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data suggest that Latinos are less likely to be physically active and more likely to be overweight and suffer from resulting complications than are Whites and that within the Latino population, Latina women are especially at risk. Therefore, promoting physical activity among Latinos, and understanding gender participation patterns within that population, is particularly important. One strategy for encouraging physical activity is to promote active uses of public parks.

Methods:

A national, multiyear, multisite study funded by the USDA Forest Service sought to understand use of public parks by Latinos and Latinas in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Chicago.

Results:

More than 50% of our sample visited parks to engage in physical activity, and in part, activity choice was related to gender. Furthermore, nearly half of all respondents walked to city park sites, whereas few or none walked to state or regional park sites.

Conclusions:

Our data suggest that Latinos are using some parks repeatedly and, in the case of city parks, are using them for physical as well as social activity. Therefore, we suggest specific ways that parks could be managed to encourage more physical activity while taking into account gender variations.