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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Available from: Luis J Suau, Oct 06, 2015
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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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    ABSTRACT: Community parks have achieved recognition as a public health intervention to promote physical activity. This study evaluated changes in population-level physical activity when an undeveloped green space adjacent to transitional housing for refugees was transformed into a recreational park. A prospective, nonrandomized study design used the System of Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to document the number and activity levels of park users over time, and to compare trends pre-and post-construction. T-tests or tests of medians (when appropriate) were used to compare pre-and post-construction changes in use of non-park and park zones for physical activity and changes in park use by age and gender. Pre-and post-comparisons of people observed using non-park zones (i.e., adjacent streets, alleys and parking lots) and park zones indicated a 38% decrease in energy expended in non-park zones and a 3-fold increase in energy expended within the park (P = 0.002). The majority of park users pre-and post-construction were children, however the proportion of adolescent males observed in vigorous activity increased from 11% to 38% (P = 0.007). Adolescent females and elderly continued to be under-represented in the park. Our findings support an association between creation of accessible outdoor spaces for recreation and improvements in physical activity. Community involvement in park design assured that features included in the park space matched the needs and desires of the communities served. Some demographic groups were still under-represented within the park, suggesting a need to develop targeted outreach strategies and programming.
    Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12/2015; 14(2):293-299. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2015.02.011 · 2.11 Impact Factor
    • "Attributes of UGS that might stimulate and encourage PA include walking/cycling paths, wooded areas, open spaces, water features, lighting, pleasant views, bike racks, parking lots, and playgrounds (Schipperijn et al., 2013). However, to date much of the research in this area has been observational and shows that many UGS are under-utilized (Floyd et al., 2008, 2011; Cohen et al., 2010; Kaczynski et al., 2011). Interventions specifically targeting use of UGS may assist with increasing PA behavior change at the community and population level. "
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    Social Science [?] Medicine 01/2015; 124:246-256. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.11.051 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    • "Design is another important element which influences the frequency of use of green areas (Schroeder and Daniel, 1982) and contribute to the improvement of health and wellbeing (Floyd et al., 2008). Users travel further distances to visit a certain green area if it has extended characteristics and enhanced aesthetical factors (McCormack et al., 2006; Epstein et al., 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: The task of green space allocation in urban areas consists of identifying a suitable site for allocating green areas. In this proposition paper we discuss about a number of factors like crowdedness, design, distribution and size that could discourage inhabitants to visit a certain green urban area. We plan to cluster our urban residents into several population segments using an Agent-Based Model and study the system in different predefined scenarios. The overall objective of this work is to provide spatial guidance to planners, policy- makers and other stakeholders, and shed light on potential policy conflicts among standard policy criteria and user preferences. We will evaluate this potential within a targeted stakeholder workshop.
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