Features of public open spaces and physical activity among children: findings from the CLAN study

Prev Med. 2008 Nov;47(5):514-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.07.015. Epub 2008 Jul 30.


Objective: To examine associations between features of public open spaces, and children's physical activity.

Participants: 163 children aged 8-9 years and 334 adolescents aged 13-15 years from Melbourne, Australia participated in 2004.

Methods: A Geographic Information System was used to identify all public open spaces (POS) within 800 m of participants' homes and their closest POS. The features of all POS identified were audited in 2004/5. Accelerometers measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) after school and on weekends. Linear regression analyses examined associations between features of the closest POS and participants' MVPA.

Results: Most participants had a POS within 800 m of their home. The presence of playgrounds was positively associated with younger boys' weekend MVPA (B=24.9 min/day; p< or =0.05), and lighting along paths was inversely associated with weekend MVPA (B=-54.9 min/day; p< or =0.05). The number of recreational facilities was inversely associated with younger girls' MVPA after school (B=-2.6 min/day; p< or =0.05) and on the weekend (B=-8.7 min/day; p< or =0.05). The presence of trees providing shade (5.8 min/day, p< or =0.01) and signage regarding dogs (B=6.8 min/day, p< or =0.05) were positively associated with adolescent girls' MVPA after school.

Conclusion: Certain features of POS were associated with participants' MVPA, although mixed associations were evident. Further research is required to clarify these complex relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation
  • Public Facilities*
  • Victoria