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Recreation Participation Patterns and Physical Activity among Latino Visitors to Three Urban Outdoor Recreation Environments

Monika Stodolska, Kimberly J. Shinew, Monica Z. Li

Abstract


The goals of this study were to compare visitation patterns and recreation participation among Latino men and women at three different urban outdoor recreation environments and to examine the types of physical activities that took place at each of the three environments. Ecological model was employed as a theoretical framework in this study. Data were collected with the use of questionnaire surveys distributed to 917 visitors at 1) two community parks in Elgin, Illinois, 2) a section of the Lincoln Park in Chicago that contains an extensive trail system, and 3) an outdoor sports complex in Aurora, Illinois. The results showed significant variations in the recreation use of these three environments and, in particular, in their suitability to foster physically active leisure among Latino men and women. Walking was more common at the community parks and trails, whereas soccer was more popular at the sports complex. Trails were also conducive to jogging/running and bicycling. Latino users of all environments showed significant gender variations in recreation participation, with women more likely to be involved in walking and all passive activities other than barbecuing/picnicking, and men more likely to be involved in all active pastimes (other than walking). The implications of the study’s findings are explored. Park managers are encouraged to consider the family-focused nature of the Latino culture when programming and/or planning for this particular subgroup of the population. Providing programs and services that allow Latino parents to be physically active with their children should be encouraged. Examples include family field trips, family soccer games, dances, and mother-children walks. Informational campaigns that clearly explain the health benefits associated with physical activity (for both adults and children) are also encouraged. In summary, organizing family-oriented events that promote various physical activities in parks, trails, and sports complexes may be an effective strategy for improving the activity levels of Latino men, women, and children.?

Keywords


Recreation participation, Latinos, parks, physical activity, natural environments

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