Park Physical Activity Motivations, Constraints and Negotiation: Generational Differences


  • Sonja A Wilhelm Stanis University of Missouri
  • Ingrid E. Schneider University of Minnesota


Public parks are increasingly recognized as important places to facilitate leisure time physical activity (LTPA) and improve public health (e.g., Bedimo-Rung et al., 2005). Although physical activity is a common benefit sought when people use  trails  and  parks,  it  is  rarely  the sole motivation (Bichis-Lupas & Moisey, 2001). Coupled with other motivations such as enjoying nature or for social gatherings, LTPA in parks can be intrinsically enjoyable, satisfying, and help achieve recommended physical activity levels (Payne et al., 1999).Despite the presence of parks, constraints to recreation and physical activity in parks exist. Constraints are factors that limit the formation of leisure preferences or participation and enjoyment in a leisure activity (Jackson, 2000). Crawford and Godbey (1987) identified three types of constraints: intrapersonal constraints (e.g., perceived lack of skill), interpersonal constraints (e.g., no one to go with), and structural constraints (e.g., lack of time/money). Studies indicate that people find ways to participate in and enjoy leisure despite constraints (e.g., Kay & Jackson, 1991). Subsequently, researchers proposed the concept of constraint negotiation to capture the ways in which people try to ameliorate or alleviate the effects of constraints (Jackson et al., 1993).Research suggests that age can influence factors related to physical activity, such as perceived barriers or constraints (e.g., Johnson et al., 2001; Shores et al. 2007). However, to date, no studies have examined generational differences in factors influencing park based LTPA.Therefore, this study examined differences in reported motivations, constraints   and   negotiation   strategies   regarding   park   based   LTPA among  Baby  Boomers  (born  1946-1964),  Generation-X  (GenX;  born 1965-1978) and Generation-Y (GenY; born 1979-1989) adult visitors.