increased risks of chronic diseases associated with aging, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer ( U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008 ; Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2010 ). Our society has created an infrastructure of parks and most urban residents live within 1
Deborah A. Cohen, Bing Han, Sujeong Park, Stephanie Williamson, and Kathryn P. Derose
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.
Andrea Richardson, Bing Han, Stephanie Williamson, and Deborah Cohen
Urban parks in the United States were first created to meet the recreational needs of residents and to provide “recuperation from the stresses and strains of urban life.” 1 Parks offer opportunities for mental and physical relaxation as well as physical activity and recreation. But since they were
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.
Evie Leslie, Ester Cerin, and Peter Kremer
Access to local parks can affect walking levels. Neighborhood environment and park use may influence relationships between neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) and walking.
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.
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.
Residents of high-SES areas live in environments that promote park use, which positively contributes to their weekly amounts of overall and recreational walking.
Andrew J. Mowen and Birgitta L. Baker
The United States’ first National Physical Activity Plan is now under development. This plan follows the release of new physical activity guidelines and seeks to address the nation’s ongoing physical inactivity and obesity crisis. For this plan to be successful, all facets of American culture need to unify behind its recommendations and action steps. Guidance for this plan involves active participation from a variety of sectors, including the park, recreation, fitness, and sport (PRFS) sector.
In this white paper, we discuss the potential of the PRFS sector in addressing America’s physical inactivity. Specifically, we provide a brief description, history, and scope of the PRFS sector; present evidence concerning linkages between this sector and physical activity; and discuss existing challenges and emerging opportunities for promoting physical activity. We conclude by suggesting PRFS recommendations to promote physical activity based on anticipated effectiveness, reach, scope, and sustainability.
Academic articles, professional reports, and physical activity plans were reviewed to summarize the evidence concerning PRFS sector strategies for increasing physical activity. Recommendations: Based on our review, we propose several sector-specific proximity, place, program, partnership, promotion, people, policy, and performance indicator recommendations for improving physical activity in the United States.
Gohei Kato, Tomoyuki Arai, Yasuhiro Morita, and Hiroaki Fujita
, such as retail shops, restaurants, and parks, in the city were investigated as objective built environmental factors in this study. Those factors were assumed to promote going outdoors among older adults for shopping, eating, playing, and so on. To assess the objective aspects of the built environment
Cecilia del Campo Vega, Veronica Tutte, Gustavo Bermudez, and Diana C. Parra
typically installed in public parks, plazas, or community centers and are open to people of all ages. The impact and cost-effectiveness of installing FZs in public spaces have already been shown. 3 The trend of FZs in the United States has mostly been under the direction of the Trust for Public Land, which
S. Morgan Hughey, Marilyn E. Wende, Ellen W. Stowe, Andrew T. Kaczynski, Jasper Schipperijn, and J. Aaron Hipp
interventions as a strategy to increase PA levels, including access to parks and other public or private recreational facilities. 3 Given such recommendations, national initiatives advocate that public parks be incorporated into PA and wellness plans for organizations and cities, 6 , 7 including that all US