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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2017, Article ID 7582402, 11 pages
Research Article

Examining the Relationship between Park Neighborhoods, Features, Cleanliness, and Condition with Observed Weekday Park Usage and Physical Activity: A Case Study

1School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, 28 Division Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
2Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
3Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Lucie Lévesque; ac.usneeuq@luqsevel

Received 24 May 2017; Revised 2 October 2017; Accepted 29 October 2017; Published 26 November 2017

Academic Editor: David Strogatz

Copyright © 2017 Kerry Hamilton et al. 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.


Background. Little research has comprehensively explored how park features, quality indicators, and neighborhood environments are associated with observed park usage and physical activity (PA). This case study examined whether weekday park usage and PA differ by neighborhood type, across numerous categories of park features, and according to park feature condition and cleanliness. Methods. Direct observation was used to capture the number of users and PA levels within 143 park features in 6 parks (3 urban, 3 suburban) over the course of six weeks. Audits of park environments assessed the type, condition, and cleanliness of all features and amenities. Results. Urban parks experienced greater usage, but a higher proportion of sedentary users than suburban parks. Usage and PA levels differed across types of park features, with splash pads, pools, paths, and play structures having the greatest proportion of active users. Usage did not differ by park feature condition and cleanliness, but greater condition and cleanliness were generally associated with higher PA levels. Conclusions. Factors such as neighborhood context, types of park features, and condition and cleanliness can impact park usage and PA levels and should be targets for researchers and planners aiming to foster more user-friendly and active neighborhood park environments.