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.

Download full-text


Available from: Luis J Suau
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
  • Source
    • "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). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: Internationally, parks have been shown to be an important community asset for physical activity (PA), but little is known about the relationship between park usage and physical activity in China. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between park user characteristics and PA in Nanchang, China. Methods: In June 2014, 75,678 people were observed in eight parks over 12days using SOPARC, a validated systematic observation tool. A logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between PA and park user characteristics. Results: Most park users were older adults (53.5%) or adults (34.6%). Overall, 55% of park users engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Fewer women were observed in parks than men, but were 66% more likely to be engaged in MVPA than men. Park users were more likely to be observed in MVPA between 6 – 9am and when the temperature was below 30°C. Conclusions: Chinese park users were more active (55%) than US studies in Tampa (30%), Chicago (49%), and Los Angeles (34%). More research is necessary to identify features of parks that are associated with greater PA so that effective interventions can be developed to promote active park use in Chinese citizens.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Evidence is mounting on the association between the built environment and physical activity (PA) with a call for intervention research. A broader approach which recognizes the role of supportive environments that can make healthy choices easier is required. A systematic review was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of interventions to encourage PA in urban green space. Five databases were searched independently by two reviewers using search terms relating to ‘physical activity’, ‘urban green space’ and ‘intervention’ in July 2014. Eligibility criteria included: (i) intervention to encourage PA in urban green space which involved either a physical change to the urban green space or a PA intervention to promote use of urban green space or a combination of both; and (ii) primary outcome of PA. Of the 2405 studies identified, 12 were included. There was some evidence (4/9 studies showed positive effect) to support built environment only interventions for encouraging use and increasing PA in urban green space. There was more promising evidence (3/3 studies showed positive effect) to support PAprograms or PA programs combined with a physical change to the built environment, for increasing urban green space use and PAof users. Recommendations for future research include the need for longer term follow-up post-intervention, adequate control groups, sufficiently powered studies, and consideration of the social environment, which was identified as a significantly under-utilized resource in this area. Interventions that involve the use of PA programs combined with a physical change to the built environment are likely to have a positive effect on PA. Robust evaluations of such interventions are urgently required. The findings provide a platform to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of future urban green space and PA intervention research.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Social Science [?] Medicine
Show more