Do attributes in the physical environment influence children’s physical activity? A review of literature

Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior, University at Albany (SUNY), Albany, NY, USA.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (Impact Factor: 4.11). 02/2006; 3(1):19. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-3-19
Source: PubMed


Many youth today are physically inactive. Recent attention linking the physical or built environment to physical activity in adults suggests an investigation into the relationship between the built environment and physical activity in children could guide appropriate intervention strategies.
Thirty three quantitative studies that assessed associations between the physical environment (perceived or objectively measured) and physical activity among children (ages 3 to 18-years) and fulfilled selection criteria were reviewed. Findings were categorized and discussed according to three dimensions of the physical environment including recreational infrastructure, transport infrastructure, and local conditions.
Results across the various studies showed that children's participation in physical activity is positively associated with publicly provided recreational infrastructure (access to recreational facilities and schools) and transport infrastructure (presence of sidewalks and controlled intersections, access to destinations and public transportation). At the same time, transport infrastructure (number of roads to cross and traffic density/speed) and local conditions (crime, area deprivation) are negatively associated with children's participation in physical activity.
Results highlight links between the physical environment and children's physical activity. Additional research using a transdisciplinary approach and assessing moderating and mediating variables is necessary to appropriately inform policy efforts.

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Available from: Kirsten K Davison, Jul 28, 2014
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    • "Similar to the findings among adult populations, children's active travel was found to be positively associated with street connectivity and accessibility to daily destinations (Braza 2004; Ewing, Schroeer, and Greene 2004; Timperio et al. 2006), while children's recreational activity (consisting mainly of outdoors play) was found to be associated with high access to well-maintained recreational facilities (Sallis and Glanz 2006; Holt et al. 2008; Roemmich et al. 2007). In addition, children's walking and bicycling were found to be related to various environmental attributes, such as pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure , street connectivity, and green open spaces (Davison and Lawson 2006; Ferreira et al. 2007; Sallis, Pruchaska, and Taylor 2000). Additional environmental attributes that were found to be important for children's physical activity include measures of road safety (e.g., traffic volume, presences of cross walks) and crime-related safety (e.g., street lights, presence of strangers) (Boarnet et al. 2005; Sallis and Glanz 2006; Timperio et al. 2004; Timperio et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies examined environmental correlates of children’s physical activity. While most of these studies used aggregated physical activity measures (i.e., overall physical activity, active travel), little is known about the contribution of specific environmental attributes to specific types of physical activity. This study examined associations between GIS-based environmental measures and children’s selfreported walking and bicycling. The study area included “traditional neighborhoods” (N=4), characterized by high-density, land-use mix and grid-street network, and “suburban neighborhoods” (N=3), characterized by low-density, land-use segregation, and cul-de-sac streets. Data on children’s physical activity and psychosocial and socio-demographic factors were obtained through a school survey (of fifth and sixth graders) (N=573). Urban-form measures (intersection density, residential density, and built coverage) were significantly positively associated with walking and negatively associated with bicycling. These associations remained significant after controlling for social, intra- and inter-personal factors. These findings suggest that certain environments may encourage children’s walking and hinder their bicycling at the same time (and vice versa) and therefore raise the need for a more clear distinction between child-related walkability and bikeablilty.
    Journal of Transport and Land Use 08/2015; 9(2):1-23. DOI:10.5198/jtlu.2015.556
    • "'The built environment' refers to objective and subjective characteristics of the physical context in which people spend their time, including aspects of urban design, land use and transportation. It also shapes and is shaped by patterns of human activity (adapted from Davison and Lawson, 2006; Handy et al., 2002). Two built environment scales that are relevant for this paper are the 'city' – the product of a socioorganisational process of urbanisation (Harvey, 1996) that is expressed territorially as well as economically, socially, politically and ecologically (Park, 1925) – and the 'neighbourhood' – 'a delineated area within physical boundaries where people identify their home and where they live out and organise their private lives' (Power and Bergin (1999), p. 9; see also Kearns and Parkinson (2001) for a discussion of the multiscalar nature of neighbourhoods). "
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    ABSTRACT: Policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions often focus on the need to change existing behaviours and social practices as well as to provide technological advances in energy supply, waste, transport, industry and infrastructure. While fundamentally important to the mitigation of climate change, little is written about the impact that achieving carbon dioxide reduction targets, particularly for the built environment, will have on individual and societal well-being and quality of life. This paper investigates how a set of measures can be developed to assess well-being in cities, both as they are at present and as they transition to ‘low-carbon-dioxide’ futures. It outlines the important relationship between well-being, low-carbon-dioxide development and the built environment. A strategy for obtaining and assessing well-being measures is explained, the measures are discussed and 100 selected measures are detailed. The paper ends by illustrating how these measures can be integrated into a wider study of well-being.
    Urban Design and Planning 08/2015; 168(4):1-12. DOI:10.1680/udap.14.00029
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    • "Moreover, the search for quality of life has become a growing concern for individuals, communities and governments seeking to find and sustain satisfaction, happiness and a belief in the future in a rapidly changing world (Compton, 1997; Eckersley, 1999). Thus, scholars have increasingly concerned themselves with the identification and measurement of key indicators that might enhance QoL.Many studies have included selected leisure attributes such as, 'amount of non-work time', 'spare time activities' and 'access to leisure facilities' in assessments of life quality (Davison & Lawson, 2006;Verbakel&DiPrete, 2008; Stack &Iwasaki, 2009). However, the results vary and while several reports suggest a positive relationship between leisure and QoL,and between leisure facilities and QoLothers do not (Llo yd& Auld, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the Free Time Allocation with the Perceived Quality of Life (QoL) and the Satisfaction with Life (SwL) in Greece. A samp le of 353 respondents showed that the Paid Labour is a very important factor in explaining the perceived QoL, followed by the active leisure and to a lesser degree by the passive leisure. The satisfaction of Life appears to be influenced more from the perceived QoL and to a lesser degree from the time allocation and leisure.
    Procedia Economics and Finance 12/2014; 9. DOI:10.1016/S2212-5671(14)00053-7
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