Article

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

ABSTRACT

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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