Correlates of park-based physical activity among children in diverse communities: results from an observational study in two cities. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: This study examined correlates of park-based physical activity (PA) among children in neighborhood parks. DESIGN: Direct observation was used to assess PA among children. SETTING: Public parks in Tampa, Florida (n=10), and Chicago, Illinois (n=18), from low income and high income and racially/ethnically diverse communities. Subjects. Children (n=3410), coded as anyone who appeared to be 10 years or younger, observed at parks in Tampa and Chicago. MEASURES: Physical activity was measured by a modified version of the System for Observing Play and Leisure Among Youth (SOPLAY). ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics and multilevel regression models were used in data analysis. RESULTS: At the activity observation level, children's PA was positively related to temperature and unstructured activities in Tampa and Chicago parks. Among park activity area predictors, type of activity area was significantly related to PA. In Tampa, more PA was observed on courts, and less PA was observed in shelter areas compared with open space areas. In Chicago, less PA was observed on courts and fields compared with open space areas. Neighborhood income was associated with lower PA in Tampa parks. Neighborhood race/ethnicity was not a significant predictor of children's PA in either city. CONCLUSIONS: Children's PA was linked to modifiable social and environmental features within parks. Strategies to increase PA among children in parks should promote courts, playgrounds, informal activities, and free play.

published proceedings

  • Am J Health Promot

author list (cited authors)

  • Spengler, J. O., Floyd, M. F., Maddock, J. E., Gobster, P. H., Suau, L. J., & Norman, G. J.

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Spengler, John O||Floyd, Myron F||Maddock, Jason E||Gobster, Paul H||Suau, Luis J||Norman, Gregory J

publication date

  • May 2011