IntroductionIncreases in physical activity can lead to decreases in the prevalence of chronic diseases. Parks provide an ideal setting for physical activity. We investigated the effect of a fitness equipment installation on the intensity of park users' physical activity at a community park.
MethodsWe used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in a Community to record physical activity in Eastgate Park in Garden Grove, California, in August 2015 (preintervention [n = 1,650 person-periods]) and in February 2016 (postintervention [n = 1,776 person-periods]). We quantified physical activity in target areas of the park during 15-minute observation periods in 2 ways: 1) we categorized each user's activity level during the period (sedentary, walking, vigorous), and 2) we converted activity levels to numeric metabolic equivalent task (MET) scores and calculated the period-average score across users. We used mixed-effects regression models to assess 1) the proportional odds of higher activity level at postintervention and 2) the association between intervention status (pre vs post) and mean period-average MET scores.
ResultsIn the immediate zone around the fitness equipment, the odds ratio for a higher activity level was 1.58 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-2.18; P = .006) and the mean period-average MET score was 0.33 (95% CI, -0.07 to 0.74; P = .11) units higher at postintervention. Across the park as a whole, the odds ratio for a higher activity level was 1.41 (95% CI, 1.21-1.63; P < .001), and the mean period-average MET score was 0.34 (95% CI, 0.12-0.56; P = .003) units higher at postintervention.
ConclusionInstalling fitness zones appears to be an effective intervention for increasing physical activity of park users. Further studies need to be conducted to understand the sustained impact of fitness zones over time.