Physical activity of youth in non-urban parks: an observation-based assessment


Public parks play an important role in healthy, active living, but the extent to which parks influence the physical activity (PA) of diverse youth outside of urban areas has not been adequately explored. This study used systematic behavioural observations to examine demographic factors and environmental attributes associated with youth PA in non-urban state parks of Georgia, USA. Young park visitors (n = 9072) were observed in two zones: lakefront and trail/multi-use areas. A majority of youth (67.3%) were observed in a state of either moderate or vigorous physical activity. Demographic variables were associated with PA levels in each zone. In lakefront zones, males, younger children and African Americans were most likely to be active. Activity levels at trails and multi-use areas were highest for white youth and lowest for Latinos. As racial and ethnic diversity increases, efforts to encourage youth PA in park settings should account for distinct recreation preferences among different cultural groups.

  • Citation: Larson, Lincoln R.; Whiting, Jason W.; Green, Gary T.; Bowker, J.M. 2014. Physical activity of youth in non-urban parks: an observation-based assessment. Leisure/Loisir 38, 3-4: 225-232. (published online June 2015 in Oct 2014 issue). 8 p.  DOI: 10.1080/14927713.2015.1042212
  • Keywords: adolescent health; child health; parks; physical activity/exercise; race/ethnicity
  • Posted Date: October 5, 2015
  • Modified Date: January 28, 2016
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.