Locations of physical activity as assessed by GPS in young adolescents
- Published on Jan. 2016
Objectives: To compare adolescents’ physical activity at home, near home, at school, near school, and at other locations.
Methods: Adolescents (N = 549) were ages 12 to 16 years (49.9% girls, 31.3% nonwhite or Hispanic) from 447 census block groups in 2 US regions. Accelerometers and Global Positioning System devices assessed minutes of and proportion of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in each of the 5 locations. Mixed-effects regression compared MVPA across locations and demographic factors.
Results: Forty-two percent of adolescents’ overall MVPA occurred at school, 18.7% at home, 18.3% in other (nonhome, nonschool) locations, and 20.6% near home or school. Youth had 10 more minutes (30% more) of overall MVPA on school days than on nonschool days. However, the percentage of location time spent in MVPA was lowest at school (4.8% on school days) and highest near home and near school (9.5%–10.4%). Girls had 2.6 to 5.5 fewer minutes per day of MVPA than boys in all locations except near school.
Conclusions: Although a majority of adolescents’ physical activity occurred at school, the low proportion of active time relative to the large amount of time spent at school suggests potential for increasing school-based activity. Increasing time spent in the neighborhood appears promising for increasing overall physical activity, because a high proportion of neighborhood time was active. Increasing youth physical activity to support metabolic health requires strategies for increasing use of physical activity–supportive locations (eg, neighborhoods) and environmental and program improvements in unsupportive locations (eg, schools, homes).