Promoting Physical Activity in Parks
Kinesiology Students Serving the Community
Background and Purpose: Adding outdoor gym equipment to a park has the potential to influence the physical activity of park users. This study piloted the feasibility of utilizing kinesiology students as physical activity coaches to promote physical activity and to motivate park users to use the outdoor exercise equipment in public parks. Methods: Pairs of student coaches (N=24) were placed in 10 parks throughout four cities for a total of 12 coaching sessions per week for 11 weeks. Students were trained in motivational interviewing techniques and behavior change skills to incorporate during their interactions with park users. Data was collected using attendance at the coaching sessions as well as the Systems for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities to scan park use before and after the pilot. Descriptive statistics and dependent t-tests were used to compare the difference in park use. Results: Students coached 205 residents and tracked 475 residents using the exercise equipment. There was no significant difference in park use (p=.066) or exercise equipment use (p=0.58), although numbers were lower after the pilot. However, the percentage of vigorously active users on the exercise equipment remained constant (37.9% vs. 36.3%, p=. 91). Conclusion: Despite no differences in use over time, the student coaches engaged with many users, supporting the feasibility of this approach.