The significance of parks to physical activity and public health: a conceptual model

Am J Prev Med. 2005 Feb;28(2 Suppl 2):159-68. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2004.10.024.


Park-based physical activity is a promising means to satisfy current physical activity requirements. However, there is little research concerning what park environmental and policy characteristics might enhance physical activity levels. This study proposes a conceptual model to guide thinking and suggest hypotheses. This framework describes the relationships between park benefits, park use, and physical activity, and the antecedents/correlates of park use. In this classification scheme, the discussion focuses on park environmental characteristics that could be related to physical activity, including park features, condition, access, aesthetics, safety, and policies. Data for these categories should be collected within specific geographic areas in or around the park, including activity areas, supporting areas, the overall park, and the surrounding neighborhood. Future research should focus on how to operationalize specific measures and methodologies for collecting data, as well as measuring associations between individual physical activity levels and specific park characteristics. Collaboration among many disciplines is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Environment Design
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Public Facilities*
  • Safety*