Assessing the social and physical contexts of children's leisure-time physical activity: an ecological momentary assessment study

Am J Health Promot. 2012 Jan-Feb;26(3):135-42. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.100211-QUAN-43.


Purpose: To use Ecological Momentary Assessment with mobile phones to describe where and with whom children's leisure-time physical activity occurs.

Design: Repeated assessments across 4 days (Friday-Monday) during nonschool time (20 total).

Setting: Chino, California, and surrounding communities.

Subjects: Primarily low to middle income children (N =121; aged 9-13 years; x¯=11.0 years, SD =1.2 years; 52% male, 38% Hispanic/Latino).

Measures: Electronic surveys measured current activity (e.g., active play/sports/exercise, watching TV/movies), social company (e.g., family, friends, alone), physical location (e.g., home, outdoors, school), and other perceived contextual features (e.g., safety, traffic, vegetation, distance from home). Analysis . Multilevel linear and multinomial logistic regression.

Results: Most of children's physical activity occurred outdoors (away from home) (42%), followed by at home (indoors) (30%), front/backyard (at home) (8%), someone else's house (8%), at a gym/recreation center (3%), and other locations (9%). Children's physical activity took place most often with multiple categories of people together (e.g., friends and family) (39%), followed by family members only (32%), alone (15%), and with friends only (13%). Age, weight status, income, and racial/ethnic differences in physical activity contexts were observed.

Conclusions: The most frequently reported contexts for children's leisure time physical activity were outdoors and with family members and friends together.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • California
  • Cell Phone*
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Social Environment*
  • Time Factors