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Thomas R. Collingwood, Alicia Adcock and John Librett

Background:

There is little data on hiking patterns in national parks to support hiking behavior as a vehicle to meet the joint YMCA, CDC, and National Park Service initiatives to encourage physical activity through public land use.

Methods:

The YMCA of the Rockies hiking program provided data from Hike Report forms completed after 343 supervised hikes for one summer season in Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO) to assess visitor hiking patterns.

Results:

Of the total hikes, 64.4% were categorized as easy, 27.1% moderate, and 8.5% difficult. There were 1937 individual hikers which represented 13.3% of the estimated potential hiker sample. The majority of hikers (69%) only took easy hikes with 72.7% participating in only one hike and 27.3% doing two or more hikes. Energy cost estimates for hike categories indicated mean MET levels between 4.0 to 5.7.

Conclusion:

Hiking patterns at ROMO may be reflective of general population inactivity suggesting the need to design strategies to promote visitor hiking.

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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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Amy I. Zlot, John Librett, David Buchner and Tom Schmid

Purpose:

This study examines environmental, transportation, social, and time barriers to physical activity.

Methods:

Survey questions from the nationally representative Greenstyles survey (N = 2181) were summed to create environmental, transportation, social, and time barrier variables. Logistic regression was used to determine if the barrier variables had a significant association with physical activity levels.

Results:

Those who have low barriers to physical activity are more likely to meet the recommended physical activity levels compared with those with medium and high barriers. In addition, transportation, social capital, and time barriers independently contributed to the low levels of physical activity.

Conclusions:

Removal of multiple barriers to physical activity may have an additive effect of increasing physical activity levels in Americans. Promoting physical activity requires strategies and research across multiple sectors to mitigate these barriers.

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John Librett, Karla Henderson, Geoffrey Godbey and James R. Morrow Jr.

The purpose of parks and recreation as well as public health is to seek the highest possible quality of life for individuals and communities. Unfortunately, little discourse has occurred between the parks and recreation and public health professions. This missed opportunity has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the spectrum of issues shared by the fields, a slow transdisciplinary learning curve, and a dearth of knowledge-based linkages between science and practice. The goal of the 2006 Cooper Institute Conference on Parks, Recreation, and Public Health: Collaborative Frameworks for Promoting Physical Activity was to highlight opportunities and advance cooperation between parks, recreation, and public health researchers and practitioners that result in collaborations that influence public health decisions at the macro (agency) and micro (individual) levels. This article introduces the discussion on scientific and practice issues in parks, recreation, and public health. By establishing a baseline of frameworks for strengthening collaboration we hope to improve the health and quality of life through parks and recreation-based physical activity.