The interaction of stress and park use on psycho-physiological health in older adults

Elizabeth Orsega-Smith, Andrew J. Mowen, Laura L. Payne, Geoffrey Godbey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress can have a negative influence on psychological and physical health, particularly among older adults. However, park-based leisure experiences, can have a positive influence upon mood states, stress, and health of this population. This study examined the relationship between stress, park-based leisure, and physiological/psychological health among older adults (ages 50-86). There were significant interactive effects between: 1) stress and length of park stay and, 2) stress and desired health benefits in their relationship to the physiological health indicator, body mass index (BMI).There were also direct relationships between park companionship and perceived physical health and between length of park stay and lower systolic blood pressures. This study offers early evidence that park-based leisure experiences correspond with physiological health indicators among older adults. Implications for future health-based leisure research and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-256
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Leisure Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Leisure
  • Older adults
  • Parks
  • Physiological health
  • Psychological health
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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