Attitudes are essentially important in determining a people’s peculiarities and response to services provided. This study, titled ‘assessment of residents’ attitudes towards recreation in Bida-Nigeria’ was achieved through field observation and the administration of 969 structured questionnaires using systematic sampling to select respondents from four strata of men, women, youths and children in Cheniyan and Nassarafu wards. With the aid of the SPSS and EXCEL packages, data were coded and presented in statistical diagrams and tables, and analyzed using percentage, Chi-Square Test and the Spearman’s Rank Correlation. Study evidence revealed that though residents commonly preferred recreational activities such as dancing, gardening, walking, traditional recreation and football, they were constrained from participating in active recreation due to pre-occupation with family and fear of sustaining injuries. The result of the Chi-Square Test, which showed that men and women demonstrated poor attitudes towards physical exercises, confirmed that finding, and revealed that though gender did not influence residents’ attitudes towards active recreation, occupation and marital status did. Further findings indicated that though youths and children had positive attitudes towards active recreation, the recreational facilities desired by the youths were lacking in Bida. The study concluded by suggesting enlightenment programmes, building and maintenance of desired neighbourhood recreational facilities for residents, recreation insurance schemes and recreation with pay to address poor attitudes and encourage more residents’ participation in the active form of recreation.

Every human being needs a leisure time which could be utilized in certain recreational activities for rejuvenation. Positive recreation is neither a luxury nor unproductive activity, but a fundamental human need required to stay healthy. However, attitude can be one of the most difficult barriers to recreation participation (Bedni, 2000; Smith et al., 2005). Obinna et al. (2009) equally contend that attitude to recreation is one of the recreation challenges in the rural and urban areas of Nigeria.

Kachoub (2010) reports that attitude is an intrinsic component that reveals one’s thoughts and beliefs on a language, culture, people or an activity which consequently helps to predict the behaviour of the individual. Crow and Crow (1999) describe attitude as the effective by-product of an individual’s experience, have their bases in his inner urges, acquired habits, and the environmental influences by which he is surrounded. Henry (1991) explains attitudes as serving as an index of how we think, and feel about people, objects and issues in our environment. They provide clues to future behaviour, predicting how we will act when we encounter the objects of our beliefs. All peoples of the world have their peculiarities, likes and dislikes, which distinguish them from others and explain the manner they accept or reject a programme or service. Peoples’ response to services is a function of their culture and belief. These are important factors that shape the way they behave (their attitudes). Moinpour and MacLachlan (2009) emphasize that attitude toward a product is a function of the sum of perceived attributes weighted as to the importance possessed by that product. That is, an individual’s attitude toward any product is a function of his perception about the product in terms of product attributes and the importance of these attributes; people prefer the product toward which they express more favorable attitude.

In attaining objectives of any recreational programme, therefore, it is imperative to consider peoples’ attitudes because attitudes play significant role in recreation participation. This consideration, in the context of this study is the assessment of the attitudes of Bida residents towards active recreation. Assessment is actually a word used to qualify evaluation, judgment and appraisal. For, example, Allen, Long, Perdue and Kieselbach (1988) propose that residents’ perceptions and attitudes towards tourism must be continually assessed to ensure that action is taken in good time and through such action the residents are willing partners in the development process. Going forward, Andriotis and Vaughan (2003) state that awareness of residents’ perceptions of tourism development and its impact can help planners and developers to identify real concerns and issues in order for appropriate policies and action to take place, optimizing the benefits and minimizing the problems. It is leisure that gives rise to recreation because without the availability of the former, it will be impracticable to engage in the latter. Gontul and Allu (2007) concur and observe that leisure time is the main determinant of recreation habit. A regular and substantial leisure time will create a more effective participation especially in outdoor recreation, while insufficient leisure time will significantly suppress participation. For these reasons, it is important for providers of leisure and recreation services to identify the desirable behaviours of beneficiaries and to then set goals that reinforce these behaviours most sustainably.

1.1 Statement of research problem
Observations in Bida show a high rate of inactivity among its residents, which is a primary concern because the impact of that behaviour is likely to affect their wellbeing. Previous studies show that many residents of Bida are yet to fully understand the values of active recreation and embrace adequate participation in it (Akogun, 2006 and Ugbabe, 2009). Patronage for passive recreation is on the increase in Bida as almost every street boasts of viewing centres where many residents pay to watch live football matches on the satellite. In Bida, occupational groups such as traders, artisans, farmers, and government employees work nearly all days of the week in order to earn a living. Only a negligible number of the population can be observed at some sports grounds actively involved in recreational activities. Landon and Locander (2009) corroborate these observations and report that for working class men, their recreation orientation slowly subsides under the pressure of family obligations and does not return until most of the nest-building demands have been met. This development may threaten good health and result into low productivity because according to the American Institute of Stress (2011) lifestyles like inappropriate competitiveness and preoccupation with work lead to conditions such as stress and heart problems. Residents’ attitudes towards recreation may be responsible for this recreation pattern in Bida because attitudes define levels of indulgence in activities. In an attempt to provide explanations for these gaps therefore, this study is required to know why there are poor attitudes towards active recreation among the major compositions of the population of Bida in order to propose steps at addressing the problem.

1.2 Research hypotheses
The study sought to test the following hypotheses:

1. Residents’ attitudes towards active recreation are independent of their gender, occupations and marital status

2.  Men’s attitudes towards active recreation are independent of their occupations

3.  Women’s attitudes towards active recreation are independent of their marital status

4.  Youths attitudes towards active recreation are independent of their occupations

5. Children’s attitudes towards active recreation are independent of their gender

1.3 Aim and objectives
The aim of the study is to assess the attitudes of residents of Bida towards active recreation, as a basis for determining their recreational interests and improving engagement.

The aim was achieved using the following objectives:

1.      Determine residents’ preferences for active recreation in Bida

2.      Identify the characteristics of Bida population that hinder participation in active recreation

3.      Establish whether or not residents’ gender, occupations and marital status determine their attitudes towards active recreation.

4.      Suggest recommendations for enhancing engagement in active recreation in Bida.

1.4 Scope of the study
For the purpose of this study, the attitudes of residents of Bida were determined, as an index for improving their participation in active recreation. In this wise, the attitudes of children, youths, women and men were studied. While children in this study referred to boys and girls of 4 -12 years old, youths comprised of males and females of 13-36 years old. Also men and women in this study consisted of both young men and women of 37-60 years old and old men and women of 61 years old and above.

1.5 Significance of the study
The result of this study will enable government and recreation planners to take developmental measures that will improve attitudes and promote physical activity among the residents of Bida.

When attitude is improved upon, participation in active recreation will be increased and this will reduce disease conditions caused by inability to participate in it. The multiplier effect of this will reside in the domain of improved productivity at school and workplace as well as enhanced profitability (Etnier et al., 1997 and Lindner, 1999).Moreover, the study will help get residents of Bida meaningfully engaged in active recreation, improve their skills in certain sports, and strengthen their capacity to contest in major sports competitions. This thesis also contributes to recreation planning literature by surveying books and articles from a variety of disciplines, explaining issues in recreation participation and summarizing steadily emerging themes. The study therefore contributes to recreation planning profession by expanding the frontiers of knowledge on active recreation and serving as a reference material for students and other researchers

1.6 Definition of terms
Assessment: In this work, assessment refers to an act of rating, evaluating, estimating or checking to arrive at a result that will be useful in making informed decisions. Both tangible and intangible matters like attitude can be assessed. The attitude of a person can be evaluated to know about his feelings, likes and dislikes as well as ideas or positions concerning socio-economic or cultural issues.

Attitude: is predisposition or tendency to respond positively or negatively towards certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (WebFinance Inc., 2011). For this study, attitude is used to encompass the way an individual thinks, feels, and reacts towards participation in active recreation.

Recreation: refers to any pursuit taken up during leisure time other than those to which people have high commitments such as over time, second job, home study and various maintenance jobs about the house (Baud-Bovy and Lawson, 1998). Boniface and Cooper (1987) and Roberts (2001) agree that recreations are the varieties of activities we choose to undertake during leisure time. Recreational activities therefore involve an element of enjoyment and happiness obtained from engaging in something one likes. Different recreational activities serve as the sources of immense pleasure and provide relaxation to one’s mind and body. Recreation in this study therefore is used to explain those physical activities engaged in during free time for the purpose of personal sensation of wellbeing, increasing life expectancy, entertainment, rejuvenation and stress management.

Active Recreation: Active recreation, as used in this study, describes physical activities that demand some elaborate effort (energy) and direct involvement without passive participation from people taking part in them, e.g., playing football, tennis, swimming, sprinting, dancing etc.

Leisure: can be regarded as a measure of time: it is the time remaining after work, sleep and necessary personal and household chores have been completed, i.e., time available for doing as one chooses for enjoyment, wellbeing and personal growth and satisfaction (Wall & Mathieson, 2006). Leisure time precedes any engagement in recreational activities, i.e., there would be no recreation without leisure. In this study, the term ‘‘leisure’’ is used to describe the time spent in engaging in active, pleasurable and entertaining activities.

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