Background: Little research has comprehensively explored how park features, quality indicators, and neighborhood environments are associated with observed park usage and physical activity (PA). This case study examined whether weekday park usage and PA differ by neighborhood type, across numerous categories of park features, and according to park feature condition and cleanliness.
Methods: Direct observation was used to capture the number of users and PA levels within 143 park features in 6 parks (3 urban, 3 suburban) over the course of six weeks. Audits of park environments assessed the type, condition, and cleanliness of all features and amenities.
Results: Urban parks experienced greater usage, but a higher proportion of sedentary users than suburban parks. Usage and PA levels differed across types of park features, with splash pads, pools, paths, and play structures having the greatest proportion of active users. Usage did not differ by park feature condition and cleanliness, but greater condition and cleanliness were generally associated with higher PA levels.
Conclusions: Factors such as neighborhood context, types of park features, and condition and cleanliness can impact park usage and PA levels and should be targets for researchers and planners aiming to foster more user-friendly and active neighborhood park environments. (Read More)