Outdoor public recreation spaces and social connectedness among adolescents

Elise Rivera, Jenny Veitch, Venurs H. Y. Loh, Jo Salmon, Ester Cerin, Suzanne Mavoa, Karen Villanueva, Anna Timperio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Outdoor public recreation spaces are important settings for leisure and physical activity. Adolescents’
use of these spaces may contribute to social connectedness via social interaction with peers and the community in
these settings. However, research on this topic is limited. This exploratory study examined associations of frequency of
visitation and physical activity in outdoor public recreation spaces with social connectedness among adolescents in
Melbourne, Australia.
Methods: Adolescents self-reported their frequency of visitation to parks, trails, beach/lake, and sports facilities; frequency of physical activity in a park, local street or path, and their street; and social connectedness. Separate analyses
were conducted for visitation (n=349, 15.4±1.6 years, 58% female) and physical activity (n=441, 15.4±1.6 years,
59% female) using multilevel linear regression models.
Results: No signifcant associations were observed for frequency of visitation to a park (B=0.86, 95% CI=−0.26,
1.99), trails (B=0.41, 95% CI=−0.61, 1.44), beach/lake (B=−0.44, 95% CI=−1.46, 0.57), or sports facilities (B=0.64,
95% CI=−0.43, 1.70), nor for frequency of physical activity in their street (B=−0.07, 95% CI=−0.46, 0.31), local
street/path (B=−0.05, 95% CI=−0.43, 0.33) or in a park (B=0.23, 95% CI=−0.14, 0.60) with adolescents’ social
Conclusions: The fndings did not support the hypothesis that visiting and being active in outdoor public recreation
spaces are associated with adolescents’ social connectedness. Future research should consider the duration and context of outdoor public recreation space use (e.g., sports, socialising, relaxing alone) and whether diferent types and/or
a combination of public spaces are more/less conducive to social connectedness.
Keywords: Youth, Neighbourhood, Parks, Sports facilities, Beaches, Streets, Paths, Social interaction, Physical activity,
Social connectedness
Original languageEnglish
Article number165
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


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