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Individual, social and physical environmental correlates of children's active free-play: A cross-sectional study

Summary


The neighborhood environment influences children’s active free-play outdoors

Active free-play outdoors may serve as an important way to increase children’s physical activity levels. In this study, Veitch and colleagues investigated the relationship between various individual, social, and environmental factors and children’s active free-play in three locations outside of school hours: the yard at home, in their street/court/footpath, and the park/playground. Researchers also examined relationships between how often children played in these three locations and their physical activity levels. As part of this study, 187 parents of 8- to 9-year-old children from primary schools in Melbourne, Australia completed a survey about individual factors (e.g., marital and employment status), social environmental factors (e.g., crime rate in neighborhood), and physical environmental factors (e.g., size of yard and quality of parks). In addition, participating children wore an accelerometer for 8 days to measure their physical activity levels. In analyzing the data, Veitch and colleagues found the following results for each of the three locations examined:
• Yard at Home: Parents reported that their child played most often in this location. Children were more likely to play in their yard if their parents reported a high crime rate in their neighborhood. Children who preferred activities not involving physical activity were less likely to play in their yard.
• Street/Court/Footpath: Children were more likely to play in their street/court/footpath if their parents reported that the neighborhood was safe, they lived in a cul-de-sac, and that their child had many friends in their neighborhood.
• Park/Playground: Children were more likely to play in the park/playground if their parents reported that the family went to the park together on a regular basis.
As part of their analysis, Veitch and colleagues found no relationship between how frequently children played in these locations and their physical activity levels.

Citation

Veitch, J., Salmon, J., Ball, K., (2010). Individual, social and physical environmental correlates of children's active free-play: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7(11)

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