Making the playfields even: Evaluating the impact of an environmental intervention on park use and physical activity
ABSTRACT 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.
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ABSTRACT: This paper is drawn from a larger research project exploring young people, leisure activities and alcohol consumption. The study draws on the concept of affordances from environmental psychology as a way of framing the debate of what young people need in neighbourhood parks. Parks are important to this age group since they provide a setting for physical activity, relaxation and social interaction. However, human development at this life stage also includes indulging in experimental and/or deviant behaviour. In the eyes of the young people involved, however, their behaviour is mostly benign, even if/when it causes conflict with other users. Furthermore, they often take particular measures to avoid other age groups (defined in environmental psychology as ‘retreat’) and while often voluntary, it may also be enforced. The research suggests that while the park is the most important place for this age group to socialise outside the home, young people themselves often feel poorly provided for and unwelcome. The fact that they adopt what they find in parks to suit their needs is motivated by interconnecting aspirations, perceptions and needs. Developing a more sophisticated understanding of these issues may lead to more appropriate and satisfactory design for all users.Journal of Urban Design 11/2013; DOI:10.1080/13574809.2013.835696
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ABSTRACT: Outdoor recreational spaces have the potential to increase physical activity. This study used a quasi-experimental evaluation design to determine how a playground renovation impacts usage and physical activity of children and whether the visitations correlate with children's physical activity levels and parental impressions of the playground. Observational data and intercept interviews were collected simultaneously on park use and park-based activity among playground visitors at pre- and postrenovation at an intervention and a comparison park during three 2-hour periods each day over two weeks. No detectable difference in use between parks was observed at followup. In the intervention park, attendance increased among boys, but decreased among girls although this (nonsignificant) decline was less marked than in the comparison park. Following renovation, there was no detectable difference between parks in the number of children engaged in MVPA (interaction between park and time: P = 0.73). At the intervention park, there was a significant decline in girls engaging in MVPA at followup (P = 0.04). Usage was correlated with parental/carer perceptions of playground features but not with physical activity levels. Renovations have limited the potential to increase physical activity until factors influencing usage and physical activity behavior are better understood.Journal of Environmental and Public Health 06/2013; 2013:109841. DOI:10.1155/2013/109841
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ABSTRACT: This study examined relationships between parents' neighborhood safety perceptions (NSPs) and their children's physical activity, active commuting to school, park use, active transportation to parks, and screen time, including differences by child gender, age, and income. Parents completed validated measures about NSPs and one child's behaviors. Children (n=144) were dichotomized into high or low groups for each of five behaviors and ANCOVAs analyzed between-group differences in parents' NSPs. There were no significant NSP differences for physical activity or active commuting, but higher parental NSPs were associated with greater park use among the full sample, males, ages 3–5, ages 13–17, and low-income children. Higher parental NSPs were also related to females' greater active transport to parks and less screen time. Addressing structural and psychosocial elements of neighborhood safety can lead to increased physical and social activity among young people.