Institute on Disability


Measuring Physical Activity in Outdoor Community Recreational Environments: Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice


Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) are major contributors to escalating health care costs in the USA. Physical activity is an important protective factor against CVD, and the National Prevention Strategy recognizes active living (defined as a way of life that integrates physical activity into everyday routines) as a priority for improving the nation’s health. This paper focuses on developing more inclusive measures of physical activity in outdoor community recreational environments, specifically parks and trails, to enhance their usability for at-risk populations such as persons with mobility limitations. We develop an integrated conceptual framework for measuring physical activity in outdoor community recreational environments, describe examples of evidence-based tools for measuring physical activity in these settings, and discuss strategies to improve measurement of physical activity for persons with mobility limitations. Addressing these measurement issues is critically important to making progress towards national CVD goals pertaining to active community environments.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014