Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

November 2019

Survey Says: Americans Love Their Parks

By Joe Bush

The NRPA's fourth annual Engagement with Parks Report is chock-full of evidence that Americans love their parks.

The survey of 1,000 adults aged 18 and up reveals outdoorsy facts like:

  • 93% say it is crucial to protect natural resources through the acquisition and maintenance of local parks, trails and green spaces.
  • 88% say local parks provide good opportunities to interact with nature.
  • Respondents visit their local park and recreation facilities an average of twice a month, with one in 10 visiting weekly, if not daily.
  • 64% visited a local park and/or recreation facility within a month of the survey.
  • 85% consider park and recreation opportunities important factors when choosing a new place to live.

On that last point, the survey shows further that easy access to high-quality parks and recreation opportunities is an important factor in relocation particularly for millennials, parents and those who identify as Hispanic.

Survey participants said their favorite park activities include: visiting a local park, playground, dog park or other open space; hiking, biking or walking on a trail; visiting a local recreation center or senior center; and playing sports or a game with family and friends.

"People are passionate for parks because everybody benefits from the offerings these spaces provide," said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of professional development, research and technology.

The survey also asked why people use parks and recreational facilities and what they do there. Half of the respondents either participated themselves or had a family member participate in a park district program within three months of the survey.

Sixty-two percent of the respondents used parks and facilities to be with family or friends, while 52% did so for exercise, 50% to be close to nature, 36% for a taste of excitement or adventure, and 16% to learn a skill or craft.

Survey participants specifically favored activities ranging from merely walking in a park or on a trail to playing organized sports to attending classes.

Seventy one percent said their favorite activity was simply visiting a park or playground or other open space; 46% said hiking, biking or walking on a trail; 43% most enjoyed visiting a rec center or senior center; 33% played sports or games; 31% used aquatic facilities; 20% took classes; 19% had children in after-school activities; and 18% compete in organized sports leagues.

The report advised professionals that they can improve by removing or lessening what the public perceives as barriers to the use of parks and rec facilities.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said a lack of time was an impediment, while 19% said lack of quality parks and facilities nearby, 18% said they cost too much, 16% said the areas around parks and facilities weren't safe, 15% said they were concerned about the safety of traveling to and from parks and facilities, 15% said they were unaware of the locations of parks and rec facilities, and 13% said the parks and facilities don't offer anything of interest.

"Parks are a solution to many of the issues people face, especially as it relates to their health and the natural environment," Roth said. "Easy access to park and recreation amenities for all members of the community is essential to the well-being of our cities, towns and counties."

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

NRPA Awards Grants to 10 Communities to Expand Park Access - October 2019

CPSC Awards Pool Safely Grants - October 2019

NCAA Announces AASP Grant Recipients - October 2019

$170.6 Million in LWCF Grants to Support Parks & Outdoor Recreation - October 2019

High School Sports Participation Declines for the First Time in 30 Years - September 2019

TPL Suggests Schoolyards as Park-Access Solution - September 2019

New Study May Change Use of Chlorine Stabilizers in Swimming Pools - September 2019

High School Sports Participation Declines for the First Time in 30 Years - September 2019

City Parks Alliance on Park Funding & Equity - September 2019

Survey Reveals Top Outdoor Recreation Activities - August 2019

Pediatricians Urge Communities to Provide Swim Lessons for All - August 2019

Report: Tennis Participation Remains Consistent - August 2019

Survey: Only Half of Collegiate Sports Programs Follow NCAA Model for Student Medical Care - August 2019

Fieldhouse Renovated, Expanded at UW-Platteville - July 2019

NRPA, Disney Award Play Space Grants - July 2019

Swim Clinic Teaches Water Safety Basics - July 2019

Nation's Pediatrics: Put More Emphasis on Enjoyment of Sports - July 2019

Diabetes Declines, National DPP Program Helped - July 2019

Washington, D.C., Unseats Minneapolis as Best City Park System - June 2019

Survey: Half of Americans Use the Pool as a 'Communal Bathtub' - June 2019

NFL Foundation Helps to Advance Youth Wellness - June 2019

Youth Sports Participation Holds Steady in 2018 - June 2019

Dog Parks Still on the Rise - May 2019

USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs - May 2019

IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club - May 2019

New Program Aims to Grow Pickleball & Tennis - May 2019

IHRSA Reports on Health Club Compensation - April 2019

Grant Funding Brings Parks Closer to People in 10 Cities - April 2019

Note & Float Program Reaches Lifesaving Milestone - April 2019

Fund Established to Assist Aspiring Women Coaches - April 2019

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program - April 2019

NRPA Offers Play Space Grants - March 2019

Smarter Lifeguard Management - March 2019

U.S. Soccer Foundation Aims to Boost Female Participation - March 2019

In Oregon, Outdoor Recreation Saves $1.4 Billion in Healthcare Costs - March 2019

Survey: Communities Should Support Pollinators - February 2019

NSPF, APSP Unite to Form Pool & Hot Tub Alliance - February 2019

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention - February 2019

Senior Living Continues Shift Toward Wellness - February 2019

Partnership Aims to Expand Play Opportunities - January 2019

Grant Funds Help Educate Pool Operators - January 2019

NFL Foundation Grants Boost Local Football Fields - January 2019

Leaders Recognized for Advancing Outdoor Recreation - January 2019

Goldfish Swim School Sponsors USA Swimming Foundation - December 2018

Physical Activity for Kids Gets Low Grade - December 2018

New Law Helps Sports Medicine Professionals & Athletes - December 2018

Outdoor Recreation Adds Billions to U.S. Economy - November 2018

Nearly $1 Million in Pool Grants Awarded - November 2018

Report: One in Four Americans Use a Health Club - November 2018

New Active Transportation Program Aims to Boost Health & Environment - November 2018