McCormack, G. R., Giles-Corti, B., Bulsara, M., & Pikora, T. J. (2006). Correlates of distances traveled to use recreational facilities for physical activity behaviors. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 3(18). doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-18
Background: Information regarding how far people are willing to travel to use destinations for different types of recreational physical activity behaviors is limited. This study examines the demographic characteristics, neighborhood opportunity and specific-physical activity behaviors associated with distances traveled to destinations used for recreational physical activity.
Methods: A secondary analysis was undertaken of data (n = 1006) from a survey of Western Australian adults. Road network distances between respondents' homes and 1) formal recreational facilities; 2) beaches and rivers; and 3) parks and ovals used for physical activity were determined. Associations between distances to destinations and demographic characteristics, neighborhood opportunity (number of destinations within 1600 meters of household), and physical activity behaviors were examined.
Results: Overall, 56.3% of respondents had used a formal recreational facility, 39.9% a beach or river, and 38.7% a park or oval. The mean distance traveled to all destinations used for physical activity was 5463 ± 5232 meters (m). Distances traveled to formal recreational facilities, beaches and rivers, and parks and ovals differed depending on the physical activity undertaken. Younger adults traveled further than older adults (7311.8 vs. 6012.6 m, p = 0.03) to use beaches and rivers as did residents of socio-economically disadvantaged areas compared with those in advantaged areas (8118.0 vs. 7311.8 m, p = 0.02). Club members traveled further than non-members to use parks and ovals (4156.3 vs. 3351.6 meters, p = 0.02). The type of physical activity undertaken at a destination and number of neighborhood opportunities were also associated with distance traveled for all destination types.
Conclusion: The distances adults travel to a recreational facility depends on the demographic characteristics, destination type, physical activity behavior undertaken at that destination, and number of neighborhood opportunities. Knowing how far adults travel to undertake physical activity will assist in designing supportive neighborhoods and designing future ecological research.