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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(1), 35; doi:10.3390/ijerph14010035

Active Use of Parks in Flanders (Belgium): An Exploratory Observational Study

1
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2
Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health Research Unit, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Physical Therapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
3
Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
4
Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO), 1000 Brussels, Belgium
5
Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, Geelong, VIC 3216, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 25 October 2016 / Revised: 19 December 2016 / Accepted: 26 December 2016 / Published: 30 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Global Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [300 KB, uploaded 30 December 2016]

Abstract

Parks have the potential to increase physical activity at the community level by providing opportunities to be active. In order to inform interventions to promote physical activity in parks, insight is needed concerning park user characteristics, the activity level of park users, the types of activities performed and associations between park areas and temporal variables with observed physical activity levels. Park user characteristics (sex, age, ethnicity and activity level) were recorded within pre-defined park areas in two parks in Ghent (Belgium) using the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC). Most park users were male, adult, and engaged in vigorous-intensity physical activity (48%). Most popular activities were biking (38%), sitting (23%) and walking (15%); accordingly, trails were used most and had the highest levels of physical activity compared to other park areas. Parks were used least frequently in the morning, during the weekend and by seniors. Therefore, active park use during morning periods, on weekend days and by seniors should be promoted and urban planners should consider that different park areas can possibly elicit varying activity levels among park users. View Full-Text
Keywords: direct observation; recreation; physical activity; SOPARC; active living direct observation; recreation; physical activity; SOPARC; active living
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Van Hecke, L.; Van Cauwenberg, J.; Clarys, P.; Van Dyck, D.; Veitch, J.; Deforche, B. Active Use of Parks in Flanders (Belgium): An Exploratory Observational Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 35.

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