Parks and recreation settings and active living: a review of associations with physical activity function and intensity

J Phys Act Health. 2008 Jul;5(4):619-32. doi: 10.1123/jpah.5.4.619.


Background: The purpose of this study was to review reported associations between parks and recreation settings (PRSs) as features of the built environment and various functions and intensities of physical activity (PA).

Methods: By searching 4 major databases for the years 1998 to 2005, 50 articles were uncovered that reported quantitative relationships between PRSs and PA.

Results: Most articles showed some significant positive relationships between PRSs and PA. PRSs were more likely to be positively associated with PA for exercise or utilitarian functions than for recreational PA. Mixed results were observed for the associations between PRSs and both moderate and vigorous PA, but PRSs were commonly associated with walking.

Conclusions: The studies indicated links between PRSs and PA and provided evidence for the contributions parks and recreation makes as part of the "health care" system within communities. Because of the ubiquity of PRSs and their potential contributions to active living, these relationships merit further exploration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Public Facilities
  • Recreation*