Cohen and team collected benchmark information on park use. They learned via “a representative sample of 174 neighborhood parks in 25 major cities (population >100,000) across the U.S. [that when] Park use, park-based physical activity, and park conditions were observed during a typical week . . . during spring/summer of 2014. [Researchers determined that] Nationwide, the average neighborhood park of 8.8 acres averaged 20 users/hour or an estimated 1,533 person hours of weekly use. Walking loops and gymnasia each generated 221 hours/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Seniors represented 4% of park users, but 20% of the general population. Parks were used less in low-income than in high-income neighborhoods, largely explained by fewer supervised activities and marketing/outreach efforts. Programming and marketing were associated with 37% and 63% more hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity/week in parks, respectively. . . . Offering more programming, using marketing tools like banners and posters, and installing facilities like walking loops, may help currently underutilized parks increase population physical activity.”
D. Cohen, B. Han, C. Nagel, P. Harmik, T. McKenzie, K. Evenson, T. Marsh, S. Williamson, C. Vaughan, S. Katta. 2016. “The First National Study of Neighborhood Parks: Implications for Physical Activity.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 51, no. 4, pp. 419-426, doi: 10.1016/jamepre.2016.03.021.