Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 470–481 | Cite as

Impacts of a Temporary Urban Pop-Up Park on Physical Activity and Other Individual- and Community-Level Outcomes

  • Deborah SalvoEmail author
  • Jorge A. Banda
  • Jylana L. Sheats
  • Sandra J. Winter
  • Daniela Lopes dos Santos
  • Abby C. King


Physical inactivity is a known risk factor for obesity and a number of chronic diseases. Modifying the physical features of neighborhoods to provide residents with equitable and convenient access to spaces for physical activity (PA) is a promising strategy for promoting PA. Public urban recreation spaces (e.g., parks) play an important role in promoting PA and are potentially an important neighborhood element for optimizing social capital and liveability in cities. Most studies examining the effects of park availability and use on PA have focused on traditional, permanent parks. The aims of this study were to (1) document patterns of park use and park-based PA at a temporary urban pop-up park implemented in the downtown business district of Los Altos, California during July–August 2013 and May–June 2014, (2) identify factors associated with park-based PA in 2014, and (3) examine the effects of the 2014 pop-up park on additional outcomes of potential benefit for park users and the Los Altos community at large. Park use remained high during most hours of the day in 2013 and 2014. Although the park attracted a multigenerational group of users, children and adolescents were most likely to engage in walking or more vigorous PA at the park. Park presence was significantly associated with potentially beneficial changes in time-allocation patterns among users, including a reduction in screen-time and an increase in overall park-time and time spent outdoors. Park implementation resulted in notable use among people who would otherwise not be spending time at a park (85% of surveyed users would not be spending time at any other park if the pop-up park was not there—2014 data analysis). Our results (significantly higher odds of spending time in downtown Los Altos due to park presence) suggest that urban pop-up parks may also have broader community benefits, such as attracting people to visit downtown business districts. Pending larger, confirmatory studies, our results suggest that temporary urban pop-up parks may contribute to solving the limited access to public physical activity recreation spaces many urban residents face.


Physical activity Parks and public spaces Built environment Pop-up parks SOPARC 



The authors thank Martell Hesketh and Nkeiruka Umeh for their work as data collectors for this study. We also thank the City of Los Altos, Passarelle Investments, and pop-up park users who responded to our survey.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study had no financial funding source. At the time the study took place, D.S. and A.C.K. received partial support from US Public Health Service Grant 1R01HL109222 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. J.A.B., J.L.S., and S.J.W. received support from US Public Health Service Grant 5T32HL007034 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. D.L.d.S. was supported by the Brazil Scientific Mobility Scholarship Program of Brazil’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. At time of manuscript preparation, D.S. was supported by US Public Health Service Grant Diversity Supplement training grant 3R01DK101593-03S1 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Salvo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jorge A. Banda
    • 3
  • Jylana L. Sheats
    • 4
  • Sandra J. Winter
    • 3
  • Daniela Lopes dos Santos
    • 5
  • Abby C. King
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental SciencesThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), School of Public Health, Austin CampusAustinUSA
  2. 2.Center for Nutrition and Health ResearchNational Institute of Public Health of MexicoCuernavacaMexico
  3. 3.Stanford Prevention Research CenterStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Department of Global Community Health & Behavioral SciencesTulane University School of Public Health & Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA
  5. 5.Department of Methods and Sports TechniquesUniversidade Federal de Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  6. 6.Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Research and PolicyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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