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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance Title: Seasonal alterations in park visitation, amenity use and physical activity among youth and adults

Authors
item Roemmich, James
item Johnson, Luann -

Submitted to: Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 24, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The ability of parks to promote visitation and physical activity by park users has been studied during summer. If parks are important for physical activity during warmer weather, they may be even more important for supporting physical activity during cooler weather. Physical activity declines during winter. Identifying park amenities that promote visitation during winter would help to promote year-round activity. The purpose of this study was to determine how park visitation, amenity choice, and physical activity intensity change across seasons. Methods. Physical activity intensity of children and adults was assessed at 16 parks in Grand Forks, ND during each the four climatic seasons. Results. Park visitation was highest in spring and lowest in winter (p<0.0001). Amenity use varied by season (p<0.0001). Splash parks were visited more during summer, and playgrounds and open spaces visited more during spring. Ice sheets were visited most in winter. Physical activity intensity was lowest in summer and highest in winter for each age group, with little difference between spring and fall. The activity intensity observed for youth age groups met or was nearly met the criterion for heart healthy moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each season. Adults’ mean activity intensity was at MVPA only in winter. Conclusions. Understanding park visitation, amenity use, and activity intensity across seasons provides valuable information that can be used to design or redesign parks that best promote year-round physical activity.

Technical Abstract: Background. Park amenities promote visitation and physical activity during summer. Physical activity declines during winter. Identifying park amenities that promote visitation during winter would help to promote year-round activity. The purpose was to determine how park visitation, amenity choice, and physical activity intensity change across seasons. Methods. Physical activity intensity of children and adults was assessed at 16 parks in Grand Forks, ND during each climatic season. Results. Park visitation was highest in spring and lowest in winter (p<0.0001). Amenity use varied by season (p<0.0001). Splash parks were visited more during summer, and playgrounds and open spaces visited more during spring. Ice sheets were visited most in winter. Physical activity intensity was lowest in summer and highest in winter for each age group, with little difference between spring and fall. The activity intensity observed for all youth age groups was 2.7-2.9 METs in summer and greater than 3 METs in all other seasons. Adults’ mean activity intensity was greater than 3 METs only in winter. Conclusions. Understanding park visitation, amenity use, and activity intensity across seasons provides valuable information that can be used to design or redesign parks that best promote year-round physical activity.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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