Seniors' Physical Activity in Neighborhood Parks and Park Design Characteristics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Physical activity brings multiple health benefits to seniors. Neighborhood parks provide seniors with accessible spaces and opportunities to engage in physical activity. This study investigated the associations between neighborhood park design characteristics and seniors' total walking step and energy expenditure during the park visit. Seniors' total step was measured by pedometer, and energy expenditure was calculated based on self-reported activities in the park. The study was conducted in 15 neighborhood parks with an area <10 ha, and included 234 senior participants. One-way ANOVA analyses indicated that seniors in parks with larger surface area, longer trail, larger natural area and outdoor fitness equipment had taken more steps. While seniors in parks without water expended more energy. For instance, seniors in parks with surface areas <3 ha walked 507 fewer steps than seniors in parks with areas between 3 and 5 ha, and 691 fewer steps than those in parks larger than 5 ha. When including seniors' demographic attributes, multiple regression analyses suggested that total step was negatively associated with age, but positively associated with total natural area in the park and the presence of outdoor fitness equipment. Seniors energy expenditure was positively associated with BMI and the presence of outdoor fitness equipment. Energy expenditure was also related to income. These findings provide direct implications for neighborhood park design and management. Planners and designers can include more natural areas over paved areas, create longer trails and place more outdoor fitness equipment in parks to encourage seniors to walk and spend more energy.

published proceedings

  • Front Public Health

altmetric score

  • 2.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhai, Y., Li, D., Wang, D. e., & Shi, C.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Zhai, Yujia||Li, Dongying||Wang, De||Shi, Cheng

publication date

  • January 2020