Contribution of public parks to physical activity.

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA 90407, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.23). 04/2007; 97(3):509-14. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.072447
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Parks provide places for people to experience nature, engage in physical activity, and relax. We studied how residents in low-income, minority communities use public, urban neighborhood parks and how parks contribute to physical activity.
In 8 public parks, we used direct observation to document the number, gender, race/ethnicity, age group, and activity level of park users 4 times per day, 7 days per week. We also interviewed 713 park users and 605 area residents living within 2 miles of each park.
On average, over 2000 individuals were counted in each park, and about two thirds were sedentary when observed. More males than females used the parks, and males were twice as likely to be vigorously active. Interviewees identified the park as the most common place they exercised. Both park use and exercise levels of individuals were predicted by proximity of their residence to the park.
Public parks are critical resources for physical activity in minority communities. Because residential proximity is strongly associated with physical activity and park use, the number and location of parks are currently insufficient to serve local populations well.

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    ABSTRACT: Background The transition from active employment to retirement is a potentially critical period for promoting maintenance or development of recreational physical activity in older age. Park proximity and quality might be important correlates of recreational physical activity in this age group. However, research on park-physical activity relationships among mid-older aged adults is limited and inconclusive. Furthermore, while knowledge of individual moderators of park-physical activity relationships is crucial for tailoring interventions, this knowledge is also limited. We investigated relationships between perceived park proximity, park quality and recreational physical activity among mid-older aged adults. Additionally, we examined the potential moderating effects of gender, education level, retirement status, functional limitations and area of residence on these relationships. Methods Self-reported data on demographics, functional limitations, park proximity, park quality, recreational walking and other recreational moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) were collected among 2700 Australian adults (57–67 years) in 2012. Objective information on area of residence was collected. To examine associations of park-related variables with recreational walking and other recreational MVPA, zero-inflated negative binomial (ZINB) regression models were used. Results Park proximity significantly interacted with retirement status; non-retired participants who reported living near a park were more likely to participate in recreational walking, whereas no relationship was observed in retired participants. Among those who walked for recreation, higher park quality was related to more weekly minutes of recreational walking. No significant relationships with other recreational MVPA and no moderating effects of gender, education level, functional limitations and area of residence were observed. Conclusions Parks may stimulate engagement in recreational walking among non-retirees and more walking among those who already walk. Future research should investigate which environmental factors relate to engagement in recreational walking among retirees and examine whether improvements in park quality actually lead to increases in mid-older aged adults’ recreational walking.
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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.
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    ABSTRACT: Good accessibility and linkages (GAL) is the most important factor to determine the success of a public park. Without GAL, even a well-designed public park will not be able to serve the public. Vice versa, with GAL, a simple designed public park will become a lively and enjoyable place for the community. GAL involves three factors which are vehicular circulation (VC), pedestrian system (PS) and public transport system (PTS). Therefore, the objective of this study is to identify the accessibility and linkages of six public parks in Malaysia. Six parks involved in this study are Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (TBNSA), Taman Metropolitan Kepong (TMK), Taman Tasik Titiwangsa (TTT), Taman KLCC (TK), Taman Tasik Shah Alam (TTSA) and Taman Tasik Perdana (TTP). The study is conducted through a survey using a questionnaire. The data was then analysed using SPSS. The validation and reliability of the GAL construct were done using Cronbach's Alpha value of 0.80 to 0.90. All items of GAL construct have good internal consistency, with a Cronbach's Alpha coefficient reported of 0.83 to 0.90. The findings of this study will be useful for improving accessibility and planning process of future public parks in Malaysia.
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May 31, 2014