Article

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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Available from: Thomas L Mckenzie, Jul 28, 2015
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    • "Biglan, Ary, & Wagenaar, 2000). Specifically, the System of Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) tool, developed by Cohen and McKenzie (Cohen et al., 2007), was used to document the number of people observed using the park between June–October 2010 and then again between June–October 2012. Observers rated the number of people, their gender and approximate ages, and the intensity level of the activity being performed by each individual counted. "
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    • "A widening range of competing urban land uses in modern cities exacerbates the challenge of meeting the demands for urban green infrastructure such as urban parks and open spaces. Green spaces, especially neighbourhood parks that provide convenient access, are purported to promote health for its urban population catchments by providing recreational opportunities that encourage active lifestyles (Cohen et al., 2007), reduce obesity-related diseases and combat mental stresses (Giles-Corti et al., 2005; Lee & Maheswaran, 2011; Maller, Townsend, Pryor, Brown, & St Leger, 2006; Pretty, Peacock, Sellens, & Griffin, 2005), and foster inclusive communities and the generation of social capital (Chiesura, 2004; Jones, Hillsdon, & Coombes, 2009). However, the health benefits can only be realized if these parks and green spaces can be reasonably accessed by urban residents. "
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