Complying with current physical activity recommendations can reduce the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases by 47% as well as other numerous benefits to society. Outdoor spaces that are well maintained and available to the population can boost physical activity levels, however many personal factors that can prevent people from being more active.

For the attention of: Public health professionals and researchers.

The problem: We want to know what kind of people use public space for physical activity practice and if this helps them achieve physical activity recommendations. We also want to know which factors reduce the chances to meet the public health physical activity recommendations.

What we did and why: We used a questionnaire with face-to-face interviews in public spaces in the municipality of Oeiras, Portugal (a cross-sectional investigation). The aim was measuring the amount of physical activity and sedentary behaviour; to then investigate the distinct correlated factors associated with complying with the overall, moderate, and vigorous physical activity recommendations.

What our study adds: The study showed us that public park users tend to be more physically active than the general population. In fact, we found that that 75.2% of the public park users we surveyed close to physical activity infrastructure in Oeiras, Portugal met the overall physical activity guidelines from the WHO. It also showed us many personal factors that can prevent people from being more active.

Implications for city policy and practice: Our findings showed that cities must increasingly invest in building welcoming environments with good facilities for the practice of physical activity.

The fight against physical inactivity must go beyond environmental improvements and include other measures to reduce sedentary behaviour, support better sleeping habits, and also increase educational access.

Full research article: Correlates associated with the compliance for moderate, vigorous, and overall physical activity recommendations of public park users in Oeiras, Portugal by Sabrina C. Teno, Hélio Silva and Pedro B. Júdice.