Research Study Abstract

The Contribution of Parks to Physical Activity

  • Added on June 15, 2012

Purpose The aim of this study was to develop objective measures of park use and to describe patterns of park use and its association with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among adults.

Methods From five US states, 238 adults were enrolled in or near 31 study parks. Participants wore a global positioning system (GPS) monitor (Qstarz BT-Q1000X) and an ActiGraph (GT3X) accelerometer concurrently for three weeks. Parks were mapped from local and national park shape files. Using objective measures based on the accelerometer and spatial data, we determined park visits and whether park use was associated with MVPA on a daily basis.

Results Participants included adults age 18-85 years, 56% female, 49% non-Hispanic White, 26% non-Hispanic Black, and 15% Hispanic. On average, participants lived a median of 0.7 miles from the closest park. They visited parks a median of 2.3 times/week (interquartile range (IQR) 1.0, 4.7), with 40 minutes/day for the median park visit duration (IQR 19, 68). Overall, participants engaged in a median of 23 minutes/day of MVPA (IQR 13, 37). Of the total, an average of 8% of moderate activity and 9% of vigorous activity was completed while in parks; on average 35% of MVPA occurred on the days when they went to a park. Mean and median MVPA and time spent in MVPA bouts were higher on days when parks were visited compared to days when they were not visited (p<0.0001).

Conclusions Using objective measures, we found that 8% of all MVPA occurred in parks among this sample of adults.


  • Kelly R Evenson
  • Fang Wen
  • Daniel A. RodrĂ­guez
  • Deborah Cohen