Public parks in Hong Kong: Characteristics of physical activity areas and their users

Bik Chu CHOW, Thomas L. McKenzie, Cindy H.P. Sit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Public parks, salient locations for engaging populations in health promoting physical activity, are especially important in high-density cities. We used the System for Observing Physical Activity in Communities (SOPARC) to conduct the first-ever surveillance study of nine public parks in Hong Kong (288 observation sessions during 36 weekdays and 36 weekend days) and observed 28,585 visitors in 262 diverse areas/facilities. Parks were widely used throughout the day on weekdays and weekend days and across summer and autumn; visitor rates were among the highest seen in 24 SOPARC studies. In contrast to other studies where teens and children dominated park use, most visitors (71%) were adults and seniors. More males (61%) than females used the parks, and they dominated areas designed for sports. Over 60% of visitors were observed engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, a rate higher than other SOPARC studies. Facilities with user fees were less accessible than non-fee areas, but they provided relatively more supervised and organized activities. Assessing parks by age, gender, and physical activity can provide useful information relative to population health. This study not only provides information useful to local administrators for planning and programming park facilities relative to physical activity, but it also provides a baseline for comparison by other high-density cities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number639
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

User-Defined Keywords

  • Built environment
  • Direct observation
  • Exercise
  • Parks
  • Physical activity
  • Recreation
  • Surveillance


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