238817 An observational study of park-usage and park environments in low-income, rural communities

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 12:50 PM

Jorge Banda, MS , Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Natalie Colabianchi, PhD , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Steven P. Hooker, PhD , SNHP Exercise & Wellness, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Introduction: Parks are community features that can provide an ideal setting for physical activity because they offer a free or low cost alternative to other physical activity resources. Most research on park-usage has been limited to urban and suburban settings, with little known about rural settings. Thus, this study examined park-usage in six parks located in low-income, rural communities in South Carolina.

Methods: Park-usage and environmental features were assessed in May and October 2010. Park-usage was assessed using the System for Observing Play And Recreation in Communities instrument. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment instrument was used to assess each park environment, and intercept surveys were administered to a sub-sample of park users. All street segments within a 400-meter buffer of each park were assessed using the Neighborhood Attribute Inventory instrument.

Results: 100 park-users were observed in May (0 48 per park), and 120 in October (5 42 per park) 2010. Park-users were primarily African American (73.4%), male (60.9%), children (35.2%) and adults (40.2%), and engaged in vigorous (33.3%) and sedentary (42.5%) intensity activities. Access is a concern, as two parks were closed during 14.6% and 49.6% of observations. A number of incivilities were present at each park (6.3 1.4 types), with litter, no grass, and overgrown grass being most prevalent.

Conclusion: These data indicate limited park-usage, particularly when compared to suburban and urban settings. With the inclusion of environmental data, they also offer a more comprehensive picture of factors associated with park-usage.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss how parks can contribute to physical activity. 2. Discuss park-usage in low-income, rural communities. 3. Discuss the environments in which parks are situated.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a third year PhD student in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina. In addition, I have a considerable amount of training and research experience in built environment determinants of physical activity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.