Park characteristics, use, and physical activity: A review of studies using SOPARC (System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities).

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) can obtain information on park users and their physical activity using momentary time sampling. We conducted a literature review of studies using the SOPARC tool to describe the observational methods of each study, and to extract public park use overall and by demographics and physical activity levels. We searched PubMed, Embase, and SPORTDiscus for full-length observational studies published in English in peer-reviewed journals through 2014. Twenty-four studies from 34 articles were included. The number of parks observed per study ranged from 3 to 50. Most studies observed parks during one season. The number of days parks were observed ranged from 1 to 16, with 16 studies observing 5 or more days. All studies included at least one weekday and all but two included at least one weekend day. Parks were observed from 1 to 14times/day, with most studies observing at least 4 times/day. All studies included both morning and afternoon observations, with one exception. There was a wide range of park users (mean 1.0 to 152.6 people/park/observation period), with typically more males than females visiting parks and older adults less than other age groups. Park user physical activity levels varied greatly across studies, with youths generally more active than adults and younger children more active than adolescents. SOPARC was adapted to numerous settings and these review results can be used to improve future studies using the tool, demonstrate ways to compare park data, and inform park promotions and programming.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Evenson, KR; Jones, SA; Holliday, KM; Cohen, DA; McKenzie, TL

Published Date

  • May 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 86 /

Start / End Page

  • 153 - 166

PubMed ID

  • 26946365

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4837088

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0260

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.02.029


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States