Assessing physical activity in public parks in Brazil using systematic observation

Diana C. Parra, Thomas L. McKenzie, Isabela C. Ribeiro, Adriano A.Ferreira Hino, Marian Dreisinger, Kathryn Coniglio, Marcia Munk, Ross C. Brownson, Michael Pratt, Christine M. Hoehner, Eduardo J. Simoes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objectives. We assessed park use in Recife, Brazil, and differences in physical activity and occupation rates in public parks with and without the Academia da Cidade Program (ACP), which provides cost-free, supervised physical activity classes. Methods. We used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) in 128 targeted areas in 10 park sites (5 ACP sites, 5 non-ACP sites) to obtain data on the number of users and their physical activity levels and estimated age. Each area was assessed 4 times a day for 11 days over a 4-week period. Results. A total of 32 974 people were observed during 5589 observation visits to target areas. People using ACP parks were more likely to be seen engaging in moderate-to-vigorous (64% vs 49%) and vigorous (25% vs 10%) physical activity. Relatively more participants in ACP sites than in non-ACP sites were females (45% vs 42% of park users) and older adults (14.7% vs 5.7% of park users). Conclusions. On the basis of systematic observation, ACP appears to be a useful strategy in promoting park use and physical activity among the population in Recife.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1420-1426
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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