MCHbest. NPM 8: Physical Activity
Strategy. Green Space and Parks
Approach. Create new parks and green space or rehabilitate empty or under-utilized public areas to promote physical activity.
Overview. Where children live and what they have access to in regards to areas and opportunities for physical activity are important considerations for communities who want to promote physical activity. There are differences in physical activity access levels according to factors such as race, gender and socioeconomic status, for example (National Physical Activity Plan Alliance, 2018). By improving access to green space and parks, through renovations or rehabilitation of under-utilized or abandoned spaces can be a way to improve access to areas of physical activity and reduce barriers to physical activity. Examples of studies with positive outcomes included increasing the number of parks, length of sidewalks, and amount green space, as well as introducing community-organized play days in available public spaces.1, 2
Evidence. Emerging. Initial research showed positive results for strategies to increase physical activity by establishing new or refurbishing under-utilized public areas. Further research is needed to identify critical components and confirm effects. This strategy has been tested more than once and results trend positive overall. Access the peer-reviewed evidence through the MCH Digital Library. (Read more about understanding evidence ratings).
Target Audience. Community.
Outcome. Increased moderate to vigorous physical activity, decreased sedentary behavior. For detailed outcomes related to each study supporting this strategy, click on the peer-reviewed evidence link above and read the “Intervention Results” for each study.
Examples from the Field. Access descriptions of ESMs that use this strategy directly or intervention components that aligns with this strategy. You can use these ESMs to see how other Title V agencies are addressing the NPM.
Sample ESMs. Using the approach “Create new parks and green space or rehabilitate empty or under-utilized public areas to promote physical activity,” here are sample ESMs you can use to model for your own measures using the Results-Based Accountability framework (for suggestions on how to develop programs to support this strategy, see The Role of Title V in Adapting Strategies):
Note. ESMs become stronger as they move from measuring quantity to measuring quality (moving from Quadrants 1 and 3, respectively, to Quadrants 2 and 4) and from measuring effort to measuring effect (moving from Quadrants 1 and 2, respectively, to Quadrants 3 and 4).
1 Heath GW, Bilderback J. Grow healthy together: Effects of policy and environmental interventions on physical activity among urban children and youth. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2019 Feb 1;16(2):172-176.
2 Meyer MRU, Hamilton CNB, Prochnow T, McClendon ME, Arnold KT, Wilkins E, Benavidez G, Williams TD, Abildso CG, Porter KMP. (2019).Come together, play, be active: physical activity engagement of school-age children at Play Streets in four diverse rural communities in the US. Preventive Medicine. 2019 Oct;129:105869.