Green Grass in Urban Parks Are a Necessary Ingredient for Sedentary Recreation


  • Soumya Mazumdar University of Canberra
  • Amanda Eaton South Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Shanley Chong Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Bin Jalaludin University of New South Wales
  • Karen Wardle South Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Dafna Merom Western Sydney University



Parks, sedentary recreation, grass, Australia, SOPARC


Public health research tends to focus on park amenities that promote physical activity as an indicator of healthy community design. The leisure disciplines argue for a broader approach highlighting the physiological, psychological, and social benefits of park-based activities. We hypothesize that parks offering avenues for active recreation may be better utilized if they offer opportunities for relaxation before/after physical activity, as a standalone leisure activity, or other amenities for adults accompanying active children to relax and socialize. To test this hypothesis, in May 2016, we observed sedentary recreation (such as reading, lying down, or sitting) in a centrally located park based on colonial landscapes within the City of Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia using the validated System for Observing Play and Recreation in a Community (SOPARC) protocol; and an accompanying high-resolution landcover dataset to explore correlates of sedentary recreation. Specifically, we were interested in the demographic characteristics, the time, the place within the park, and landcover features of the places where people engaged in sedentary recreation. We found that 68% of adults visiting the park were engaged in sedentary recreation which peaked between 12-2 p.m. We also found that sedentary recreation was significantly associated (p<0.05) with a greater percent of grass in an area. Our findings are consistent with the propositions of attention restoration and socialization theories of greenspace utility. We conclude that parks should be designed to offer adequate amenities for leisure in addition to physical activity perhaps through the provision of adequate greenspaces. 






Research Paper