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Andrea Richardson, Bing Han, Stephanie Williamson and Deborah Cohen

) increased park use across genders and all age groups. 21 Furthermore, the renovations appeared to increase the number of walking and vigorously active park users. Park management practices (eg, programming) and characteristics have been associated with park use, but findings are largely cross sectional

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Deborah A. Cohen, Bing Han, Sujeong Park, Stephanie Williamson and Kathryn P. Derose

, 2013 ) Along with disparities in access, there are also disparities in park use: Parks are used more by younger than by older groups and more by males than females ( Cohen et al., 2016 ; Evenson, Jones, Holliday, Cohen, & McKenzie, 2016 ). Another barrier to physical activity as people age is the

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Anna E. Greer, Brianna Castrogivanni and Richard Marcello

Background:

Limited research has examined park use and physical activity among economically and ethnically diverse families. This study fills that gap.

Methods:

Parents (n = 326) completed a questionnaire about their park use (yes/no, parks visited, reasons for nonuse) and physical activity (Godin Leisure Time questionnaire). Geographical Information Systems was used to calculate the distance from respondents’ home address to their nearest park. The number of activity features (eg, playgrounds) in parks was determined objectively using the Community Park Audit Tool.

Results:

Half of respondents were sufficiently active; 87.6% reported park use in the prior 6 months. Among sufficiently active respondents, 92.4% reported park use (P = .011). We found no difference in park proximity between respondents who did and did not report distance as a park use barrier. An objective assessment confirmed fewer activity features in parks near the homes of respondents reporting few activity features as a barrier to park use. The most often visited parks were significantly larger than the less-often visited parks.

Conclusion:

Parks might best support physical activity for families when activity features are carefully planned and equitably distributed across parks. Efforts to promote families’ awareness of park locations might be warranted to reduce perceived proximity barriers.

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Karry Dolash, Meizi He, Zenong Yin and Erica T. Sosa

Background:

Park features’ association with physical activity among predominantly Hispanic communities is not extensively researched. The purpose of this study was to assess factors associated with park use and physical activity among park users in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods.

Methods:

Data were collected across 6 parks and included park environmental assessments to evaluate park features, physical activity observations to estimate physical activity energy expenditure as kcal/kg/minute per person, and park user interviews to assess motivators for park use. Quantitative data analysis included independent t tests and ANOVA. Thematic analysis of park user interviews was conducted collectively and by parks.

Results:

Parks that were renovated had higher physical activity energy expenditure scores (mean = .086 ± .027) than nonrenovated parks (mean = .077 ± .028; t = −3.804; P < .01). Basketball courts had a significantly higher number of vigorously active park users (mean = 1.84 ± .08) than tennis courts (mean = .15 ± .01; F = 21.9, η2 = 6.1%, P < .01). Thematic analysis of qualitative data revealed 4 emerging themes—motivation to be physically active, using the play spaces in the park, parks as the main place for physical activity, and social support for using parks.

Conclusion:

Renovations to park amenities, such as increasing basketball courts and trail availability, could potentially increase physical activity among low-socioeconomic-status populations.

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Deborah A. Cohen, Bing Han, Jennifer Isacoff, Bianca Shulaker, Stephanie Williamson, Terry Marsh, Thomas L. McKenzie, Megan Weir and Rajiv Bhatia

Background:

Given the concerns about low rates of physical activity among low-income minority youth, many communitybased organizations are investing in the creation or renovation of public parks to encourage youth to become more physically active. To what degree park renovations accomplish this goal is not known.

Methods:

We used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to measure park users and their physical activity levels before and after 2 parks were renovated. We compared findings with 4 parks: 2 that were unrenovated parks and 2 that were undergoing renovation. We also surveyed park users and local residents about their use of the parks.

Results:

Compared with parks that had not yet been renovated, the improved parks saw more than a doubling in the number of visitors and a substantial increase in energy expended in the parks. Increased park use was pronounced in adults and children, but was not seen in teens and seniors. Park renovations were associated with a significantly increased perception of park safety.

Conclusions:

Park improvements can have a significant impact on increasing park use and local physical activity.

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Viviene Temple, Ryan Rhodes and Joan Wharf Higgins

Background:

Walking has been identified as a low resourced yet effective means of achieving physical activity levels required for optimal health. From studies conducted around the world, we know that dog owners walk more than nondog owners. However, this evidence is largely self-reported which may not accurately reflect dog-owners’ behaviors.

Method:

To address this concern, we systematically observed the use of 6 different public parks in Victoria, British Columbia during fair and inclement weather. Using a modified version of the SOPARC tool, we documented visitors’ types of physical activity, and the presence or absence of dogs. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment was used to consider park features, amenities, and incivilities.

Results:

More people without dogs (73%) visited the parks than those with dogs (27%), largely because of attendance at the multiuse sport parks during the summer months. Despite the opportunities to engage in multiple sports, most people used the parks to walk. However, when inclement weather struck, dog owners continued visiting parks and sustained their walking practices significantly more than nondog owners.

Conclusion:

Our observational snapshot of park use supports earlier work that dogs serve as a motivational support for their owners’ walking practices through fair and foul weather.

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Evie Leslie, Ester Cerin and Peter Kremer

Background:

Access to local parks can affect walking levels. Neighborhood environment and park use may influence relationships between neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) and walking.

Methods:

Self-report data on perceived park features, neighborhood environment, park use, neighborhood walking and sociodemographics were obtained from a sample of Australian adults, living in high/low SES areas. Surveys were mailed to 250 randomly selected households within 500m of 12 matched parks. Mediating effects of perceived environment attributes and park use on relationships between area-SES and walking were examined.

Results:

Mean frequency of local park use was higher for high-SES residents (4.36 vs 3.16 times/wk, P < .01), who also reported higher levels of park safety, maintenance, attractiveness, opportunities for socialization, and neighborhood crime safety, aesthetics, and traffic safety. Safety and opportunity for socialization were independently positively related to monthly frequency of visits to a local park which, in turn, was positively associated with walking for recreation and total walking. Residents of higher SES areas reported an average 22% (95% CI: 5%, 37%) more weekly minutes of recreational walking than their low SES counterparts.

Conclusion:

Residents of high-SES areas live in environments that promote park use, which positively contributes to their weekly amounts of overall and recreational walking.

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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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Sandra E. Echeverria, Amiee Luan Kang, Carmen R. Isasi, Janice Johnson-Dias and Dula Pacquiao

Background:

Neighborhoods can be an important feature of the built environment influencing physical activity; however, neighborhood poverty and violence may pose significant barriers for youth physical activity. We conducted a community survey of 107 households with youth 3–12 years of age in select neighborhoods of the city of Newark, New Jersey, a highly impoverished and racially/ethnically segregated city of the United States.

Results:

The majority of sampled households did not have access to a park, and nearly 60% of youth were not engaged in a team or organized physical activity program. Hearing gunshots and seeing drug deals in the neighborhood were reported by 74% and 56%, respectively, of study participants. In adjusted regression models, a 1-unit increase in self-reported neighborhood safety was associated with perceptions that parks were safe for youth to use (OR = 1.7, CI = 1.3, 2.3) and increased odds of youth using parks (OR = 1.3, CI = 1.0, 1.6). Self-reported neighborhood violence was marginally associated with lower levels of Metabolic Equivalent (MET)-min/week of moderate PA (β = –54.25, P = .05).

Conclusion:

To ensure national goals of increased physical activity and use of outdoor spaces, addressing the neighborhood contexts under which the most vulnerable of our youth live will be required.

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Julian A. Reed, Cheryl-Anne Arant, Princess Wells, Katherine Stevens, Sandra Hagen and Holly Harring

Background:

The purpose was to examine 9 adult activity settings in 25 community parks to determine the most and least frequently used by gender, physical-activity (PA) intensity, and ethnicity.

Methods:

All activity settings were identified, measured, and cataloged with GIS measures using the SOPARC direct observation instrument. Each setting was assessed 4 times a day for 7 consecutive days.

Results:

Significantly more male adults were observed at the 25 parks (1598 versus 946; 63% versus 37%). Nine hundred fifty-eight (60%) male adults and 771 (81.1%) female adults used the paved trails. The second most heavily used activity setting for male adults was the softball and baseball fields (n = 239, 14.9%), and female adults chose to use the swimming pools (n = 45, 4.5%). Whites participated in considerably more vigorous PA than minorities.

Conclusions:

Paved trails were only in 5 of the 25 parks but were the most frequently used activity setting.