How can parks be improved so as to encourage physical activity for the prevention of heart disease?

Years funded:
2018 - 2021

Insufficient physical activity is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but motivating individuals to be active for health benefits has had limited success. 

In 2016, The Lancet Physical Activity Series and Urban Design & Health Series identified a key role for environmental factors in influencing physical activity for the prevention of chronic diseases including CVD. 

Parks are important features of the neighbourhood built environment that can support people of all ages to engage in regular physical activity; however, they are an under-utilised community health resource. 

There is a dearth of research evidence to inform optimal park design for physical activity. Further, given projected urban population growth, higher density living and climate and environmental challenges, the availability of high quality and appropriately designed parks is critical for future generations. 

This research will use novel methods to identify the features of parks necessary to promote park visitation and park-based physical activity among children, adolescents, adults and older adults. 

Identifying variations by area level socio-economic status will also provide insights relevant to disadvantaged groups who bear the greatest burden of CVD. 

The findings will inform future park design and re-development for park visitors across the life course and be used to advocate for investment in park maintenance and improvement. 

The benefit to individuals and communities is improved physical and mental health and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 

This research is directly aligned with Action Area 1 in the Heart Foundation's Blueprint for an Active Australia – to create built environments that support active living.

Researcher Profile

Dr Jenny Veitch

Institute: Deakin University
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