Park-Based Physical Activity in Diverse Communities of Two U.S. Cities

Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8004, USA.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 05/2008; 34(4):299-305. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.01.009
Source: PubMed


Systematic study of human behavior in public parks and specific activity settings can inform policy to promote physical activity in diverse communities.
Direct observation was used to assess physical activity in public parks in Tampa FL (n=10) and Chicago IL (n=18). Parks were selected from census tracts with high concentrations of white, African-American, and Hispanic populations. Representation from low- and high-income census tracts was also achieved. Physical activity was measured by a modified version of the System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY). Activity codes from SOPLAY were transformed to energy expenditure per person (kcal/kg/min).
Seventy percent of Tampa and 51% of Chicago park users were observed engaged in sedentary behavior. In both cities, children were more likely than adults to be observed in walking or vigorous activity. In Tampa, parks located in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of Hispanic residents were associated with greatest levels of energy expenditure. In Chicago, parks in neighborhoods with the highest concentration of African Americans showed the highest energy expenditure per person. Gender was associated with physical activity only in Tampa parks. Energy expenditure also varied by activity areas.
More than one half of park users in both cities engaged in sedentary behavior. While differences in park-based physical activity by neighborhood income and racial/ethnic composition were observed, these differences can more likely be attributed to the types of designated activity areas that support physical activity. The study findings suggest that specific configurations of park environments can enhance physical activity in parks.

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    • "Prior to data collection, 7 activity zones were identified and mapped by the research team (Floyd et al., 2008). The zones were located both within the boundaries of the park and garden plans and in areas adjacent to those boundaries. "
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    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12/2015; 14(2):293-299. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.02.011 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    • "One effective strategy in the promotion of physical activity is the provision of safe, accessible, and free places for physical activity to occur, such as public parks (Kaczynski and Henderson, 2008). Parks have been consistently shown to be an important community asset for physical activity over several studies in developed nations (Kaczynski and Henderson, 2008; Floyd et al., 2008; Cohen et al., 2007; Mowen et al., 2007). Parks are often free, open to the public and play an important role in promoting residents' physical activity (Mowen et al., 2007; Timperio et al., 2008). "
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