Research Study Abstract

The association between the parental perception of the physical neighborhood environment and children’s location-specific physical activity

  • Published on June 19, 2015

Background: The relationship between children’s physical neighborhood environment and their physical activity, has been largely investigated. However in recent reviews, only a few significant and consistent direct associations between children’s physical neighborhood environment and their physical activity were found. This is possibly due to the fact that the location where children’s physical activity took place, is insufficiently specified. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the association between parental perceived neighborhood characteristics and children’s physical activity in clearly defined environments.

Methods: Children (9–12 years; n = 606) wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for 7 days. Parents completed the parental version of the Neighborhood Environmental Walkability Scale questionnaire and reported on children’s physical activity in specific locations: physical activity in nearby streets and on sidewalks, physical activity in public recreation spaces and physical activity in the garden. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted in MLwiN 2.30.

Results: Children were more likely to be active in nearby streets and on sidewalks, if their parents perceived lower street connectivity (OR = 0.479; 95 % CI = 0.33 and 0.70), higher land use mix accessibility (OR = 1.704; 95 % CI = 1.25 and 2.33) and more crime safety (OR = 1.879; 95 % CI = 1.29 and 2.74). Children whose parents perceived higher presence of recreation facilities (OR = 1.618; CI = 1.23; 2.12) were more likely to be active in public recreation spaces. No environmental neighborhood variables were related to physical activity in the garden and overall moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity.

Conclusions: The parental perceived physical neighborhood environment relates differently to physical activity in different locations. In order to develop effective interventions, it seems promising to further investigate the association between location-specific physical activity and specific neighborhood environmental correlates.


BMC Public Health