Online Program

Qualitatively exploring sedentary park users perceptions of social and physical park environments: A pilot study

Monday, November 4, 2013

Stephanie Child, MPH, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
Gina Besenyi, MPH, Department of Health Promotion Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
Rahma Ajja, MPT, MPH, Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess sedentary park users' perceptions of parks as viable opportunities to engage in physical activity. Methods: Three parks in Columbia, SC were selected to represent a range of social and environmental conditions. Criterion-based sampling was used to identify sedentary park users (n=8) for inclusion in the study. In-depth interviews were conducted using a structured interview guide consisting of open-ended questions. Grounded theory coding and qualitative comparative qualitative analyses were completed using NVivo software. Results: Seven major themes (asterisk*) emerged that fell under three broad categories: individual correlates, physical environment and social environment. Under individual correlates, main intentions* for park visitation included being outdoors and bringing children to the park. Under the physical environment category, participants preferred natural design*/features* (e.g. water elements, trails incorporating trees), amenities* supportive of physical activity (e.g. drinking fountains, bathrooms), and socializing settings (e.g. picnic tables). Under the social environment category safety*, modeling of physical activity by others*, and diversity of activities* (e.g. programming for all ages), were important park elements. Across multiple themes, participants spoke about parks as opportunities to engage socially and explore nature. These results suggest that sedentary park users may value parks differently than active park users and implies that different approaches may be more salient for intervention strategies aimed at increasing physical activity levels in sedentary park visitors. Conclusion: A better understanding of sedentary user preferences for park elements can inform park design and opportunities to increase physical activity in low-active adults.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the role of physical and social park environments on sedentary park users physical activity accrual. Describe barriers to and potential mechanisms for increasing physical activity in sedentary park users. Identify themes related to sedentary park users perceptions of parks as viable opportunities for physical activity.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Stephanie Child is a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include enhancing the built environment to increase opportunities for physical activity (PA). She is currently working on an intervention to increase PA on school playgrounds. More recently, she has taken an interest in social environments and has subsequently initiated the current pilot study to explore the role of parks as social and physical environments for PA.
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.