Visitor Constraints to Physical Activity in Park and Recreation Areas: Differences by Race and Ethnicity


  • Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis
  • Ingrid E. Schneider
  • Deborah J. Chavez
  • Kimberly J. Shinew


physical activity, health, constraints, race/ethnicity


Health benefits of physical activity are well recognized and documented, yet inactivity and obesity rates remain high in the U.S., particularly among racially and ethnically diverse populations. A greater understanding of factors that constrain physical activity in parks and recreation areas across various racial and ethnic groups may improve an agency’s ability to address obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Previous research has begun to document constraints to physical activity, as well as differences in both general leisure constraints and physical activity by race/ethnicity. However, additional work is needed to specifically examine constraints to physical activity of racially and ethnically diverse park visitors due to their increase in population proportion and risk for health issues. Therefore, this study examined differences in perceived constraints to physical activity in park and recreation areas among four racial and ethnic groups (Asian, Black/African American, non-Hispanic/Latino Whites, and Hispanic/Latinos of all races) while controlling for the effects of age, education, gender and recreation site location. Onsite questionnaires were administered to visitors in four park and recreation areas in the U.S. Two sites, one urban-proximate (city park) and one urban-distant (park/recreation area 50 miles or more from city), were selected in the Los Angeles and Minneapolis metropolitan areas. Results revealed similarities and differences among race and ethnic groups regarding constraints to physical activity in park and recreation areas and indicated a number of implications and opportunities for land managers. Time, family obligations and lack of energy were the greatest constraints for all groups. Therefore, efforts to reduce or at least address these constraints will be particularly important across all visitors. Differences emerged in 14 of the 18 constraint items among Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino and White respondents when controlling for the effects of each recreation site location, and 10 differences remained when also controlling for age, education, and gender. In general, constraints were greater for racially/ethnically diverse respondents, and particularly for Hispanic/Latino visitors. As these populations have higher rates of obesity and sedentary lifestyles, it is critical that their constraints be addressed. In addition, land managers seeking to increase physical activity on their lands for the improved health benefits of visitors and potential visitors should attend to the constraints experienced by all.?





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