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

Formally Refereed
Authors: Lincoln R. Larson, Jason W. Whiting, Gary T. Green, J.M. Bowker
Year: 2014
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Southern Research Station
Source: Leisure/Loisir


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.


adolescent health, child health, parks, physical activity/exercise, race/ethnicity


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