Penn State faculty co-author major recreation research papers

Penn State faculty members co-authored two of five important papers commissioned by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which were released at the end of October. The goal of the papers is to help park and recreation agencies across the nation better align their services with the key challenges faced in their communities to encourage active, healthy living.

“With the findings in these papers, park and recreation agencies across our nation now have the research and associated tools to strategically develop programs and services to effectively support their communities,” said NRPA CEO Barbara Tulipane. “Given the current economic challenges, Americans and park and recreation agencies alike are looking for cost-effective ways to do more. This information benefits both in a real way.”

Geoffrey Godbey, professor emeritus of recreation, park, and tourism management; and Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation, park, and tourism management, co-authored a paper on how parks and recreation services provide physical activity benefits, titled "The Benefits of Physical Activity Provided by Park and Recreation Services."

Key ideas include:

-- People are most likely to exercise during their leisure time; park and recreation resources located within a close proximity to communities result in more physical activity and better health for those residences.

-- Government park and recreation services are ideal locations for such activities, and are extremely affordable -- often available at low or no cost to local residents.

-- To encourage even more widespread use of public park and recreation services, which will in turn motivate the public to participate in more physical exercise across the life span, additional funding should be allocated toward designing and renovating parks.

Linda Caldwell, professor of recreation, park, and tourism management; and Peter Witt, professor and holder of the Bradberry recreation and youth development chair at Texas A&M University, co-authored a paper on the benefits of recreation services for youth, titled "The Rationale for Recreation Services for Youth: An Evidence Based Approach."

Key ideas include:

-- Protecting youth during after-school hours can safeguard their welfare and that of the greater community (reducing car accidents, abuse of illicit substances, and sexual assault).

--Park and recreation programs achieve this by providing opportunities for youth to develop and grow into fully functioning adults.

-- Park and recreation agencies should be key partners in creating planned, purposive programs to enable young people to develop the knowledge, values, attitudes, skills and behaviors necessary to successfully transition to adulthood.

For more information on the papers, visit the National Recreation and Park Association website.

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Last Updated July 28, 2017