Background: The purpose of this study was to identify the activity settings used and physical activity (PA) intensity achieved by boys and girls in 45 parks in a southeastern community. Methods: PA and sedentary behaviors were assessed at all activity settings by gender, race, and PA intensity. Eight activity settings were identified in 45 parks. The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) instrument was used to assess PA during the summers of 2004 through 2008. Results: More boys (n = 1,668; 58%) were observed at the 45 parks than girls (n = 1,184, 42%). Playgrounds were the most frequently used activity setting by both boys and girls. The vast majority of PA observed on the playgrounds was vigorous PA (n = 584; 41%). Playing fields were the second most frequently used activity setting by male and female youth, and 292 (10.3%) of all boys and girls were observed using this activity setting. However, only 18 of the 45 parks (40%) had a playing field. More males (n = 164; 56%) used the playing fields for PA than girls (n = 128; 44%). Most boys and girls were observed participating in vigorous PA (n = 254; 87%) at this activity setting. Observations of seven of the eight activity settings in the 45 parks indicated a greater frequency and percentage of white youth observed in comparison to minorities. Conclusions: Identifying the patterns of children and teens in community parks will provide investigators with specific objective data to develop user profiles that can perhaps lead to effective PA interventions in these environmental settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics