Making the playfields even: Evaluating the impact of an environmental intervention on park use and physical activity

University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, USA
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.09). 04/2009; 48(4):316-320. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.01.010


ObjectivesThere is a need for understanding how physical environmental changes impact physical activity (PA) levels within a population. We examined visitation and PA levels in two San Francisco parks in low-income neighborhoods that underwent field renovations, one of which was part of a parks initiative to improve family and youth involvement.MethodsData was collected in two intervention parks and a control park from May 30 to June 5, in 2006 and 2007. The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) was used, which included momentary time sampling on gender, age category, and activity level of park users accessing different sections of the park.ResultsBoth intervention park playfields saw significant increases in male and female visitors, with over a 4-fold increase in the average number of visitors per observation among most age groups. For both genders, there was a significant increase in sedentary, moderately active, and vigorously active visitors to the intervention park playfields.ConclusionsPark playfield renovations, with and without family and youth involvement initiatives, appear to increase visitation and overall PA.

26 Reads
  • Source
    • "Experimental design (A 1 –B 1 –A 2 ) Child physical activity intensity Children park users 1 park Tester et al. 2009 San Franciso, USA May 2006– June 2007 "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This systematic review collates, and presents as a narrative synthesis, evidence from interventions which included changes to the urban environment and reported at least one health behaviour or outcome for children and young people. Following a comprehensive search of six databases, 33 primary studies relating to 27 urban environment interventions were included. The majority of interventions related to active travel. Others included park and playground renovations, road traffic safety, and multi-component community-based initiatives. Public health evidence for effectiveness of such interventions is often weak because study designs tend to be opportunistic, non-randomised, use subjective outcome measures, and do not incorporate follow-up of study participants. However, there is some evidence of potential health benefits to children and young people from urban environment interventions relating to road safety and active travel, with evidence of promise for a multi-component obesity prevention initiative. Future research requires more robust study designs incorporating objective outcome measures.
    Health & Place 10/2015; 36:97-117. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.09.004 · 2.81 Impact Factor
    • "Two studies investigated interventions that included a combination of both a physical change to the built environment and a PA promotional aspect (Merom et al., 2003; Tester and Baker, 2009). Merom et al. (2003) investigated the impact of a promotion campaign of a newly constructed Rail Trail in Western Sydney, Australia. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Evidence is mounting on the association between the built environment and physical activity (PA) with a call for intervention research. A broader approach which recognizes the role of supportive environments that can make healthy choices easier is required. A systematic review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of interventions to encourage PA in urban green space. Five databases were searched independently by two reviewers using search terms relating to ‘physical activity’, ‘urban green space’ and ‘intervention’ in July 2014. Eligibility criteria included: (i) intervention to encourage PA in urban green space which involved either a physical change to the urban green space or a PA intervention to promote use of urban green space or a combination of both; and (ii) primary outcome of PA. Of the 2405 studies identified, 12 were included. There was some evidence (4/9 studies showed positive effect) to support built environment only interventions for encouraging use and increasing PA in urban green space. There was more promising evidence (3/3 studies showed positive effect) to support PAprograms or PA programs combined with a physical change to the built environment, for increasing urban green space use and PAof users. Recommendations for future research include the need for longer term follow-up post-intervention, adequate control groups, sufficiently powered studies, and consideration of the social environment, which was identified as a significantly under-utilized resource in this area. Interventions that involve the use of PA programs combined with a physical change to the built environment are likely to have a positive effect on PA. Robust evaluations of such interventions are urgently required. The findings provide a platform to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of future urban green space and PA intervention research.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 01/2015; 124:246-256. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.051 · 2.89 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Rather, these studies need to be opportunistic. A few natural experiments examining physical activity have monitored the development of neighbourhood greenway/trails [24], sporting playfields [25], walking/cycling trails [26,27], and the implementation of new residential development codes [28], with results showing some increases in overall path use [24] and visits to the sporting playfields [25]. However, limited research has focused specifically on parks. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Modifying the built environment by improving parks is potentially a sustainable way to increase population level physical activity. Despite considerable investment in parks and park renovations, few natural experiments on the impact of improving amenities on park use and park-based physical activity have been conducted. REVAMP is a natural experiment that aims to examine whether park improvement increases overall park usage, park-based physical activity and active travel to and from the park in the intervention compared with the control park over a two-year period; and to identify which specific aspects of the park refurbishment attracts park visitors and encourages park users to be more active. This paper describes the methods of the REVAMP study. Methods The intervention park is a large regional park (329 hectares) located in a low socio-economic status (SES) area in the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The control park is a regional park (120 hectares) located in a high SES area in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Multiple methodologies to evaluate the impact of the park renovation are being employed including: cross-sectional surveys of local residents living near the two parks, direct observations of park users, intercept surveys with park users, and electronic monitoring of path usage and car traffic within the parks. Baseline measures were conducted in April-May 2013 (T1), and an innovative play space suitable for children of all ages and abilities was installed at the intervention park between September 2013 and February 2014. Follow-up measures will be repeated in April-May 2014 (T2) and April-May 2015 (T3). All methodologies will be completed at both the intervention and control parks at all three time-points, with the exception of the cross-sectional survey of local residents which will only be conducted at T1 and T3. Conclusion This research will inform future park developments, and will contribute to creating an evidence base of the impact of park refurbishment, and the development of natural experiment methodology. Trial Registration Current controlled trial ISRCTN50745547, registration date 11.1.2014.
    BMC Public Health 06/2014; 14(1):600. DOI:10.1186/1471-2458-14-600 · 2.26 Impact Factor
Show more