Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/25/2013 -- A recent study done by the RAND Corporation showed that moderate increases in marketing and community outreach programs can increase physical activity within public parks. As public parks are accessible to the entire community, this is a cost-effective way to improve the overall health of a community and use local parks and recreational facilities to their full purpose.
Simply putting up a few signs around the park and encouraging the community to watch for them can increase a citizen’s physical activity by 7-12 percent. During the study, scientist divided parks into three groups at random, with one group of directors putting $4,000 toward advertising exercise classes or promoting walking paths within the park.
The second group allocated the budget toward more general promotional marketing about the parks without mentioning the features which could encourage activity, while the third group did not receive a budget for marketing.
Over the five year span of the study, 32 of the 33 parks in group one saw more people come to the park and engage in physical activities such as walking, biking, or using various park facilities for exercise. In group two, park monitors saw a moderate increase in use of facilities for those who already came to the parks on a regular basis, and group three saw no change in park usage.
The results of this study also come at a time when many U.S. cities are cutting their parks and recreation budget in light of funding other programs. With a recent shift in the emphasis on physical activity, and the knowledge that the majority of citizens do not meet the recommended 150 minutes per week of activity, perhaps it would be wiser to provide the parks a budget and guidelines for marketing.
Hopefully, the results of the study, which was released by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, will change the focus of park efforts to engage citizens to use their facilities for exercise and enjoyment rather than let park facilities sit empty and unused.
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Director of Marketing / Media & PR