How Can Neighborhood Parks Attract More Users?

"The United States is home to more than 108,000 parks, ranging from large regional parks and natural resource areas to sports complexes and small “pocket parks.” Most urban residents live in close proximity to one or more neighborhood parks, which are ideal places for people to engage in physical activity, such as sports, brisk walking and other forms of exercise. U.S. guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity for youth and 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for adults. However, fewer than half of Americans currently meet these guidelines and that inactivity is contributing to a growing epidemic of chronic disease. Given that park space and facilities already exist, what would it take to encourage people to use this space to be more physically active?

To explore these issues, the RAND Corporation recently conducted the first national study of neighborhood parks — a special project sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Our team of 60 field staff visited a representative sample of parks across the country to understand who is using parks, what features they are using and which factors contribute most to park use and physical activity."

For more on this national study go to the July issue of NRPA's Parks & Recreation Magazine.