Objective measurement of children's physical activity geographies: A systematic search and scoping review

Health Place. 2021 Jan;67:102489. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2020.102489. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


This study aimed to systematically identify, map out, and describe geographical information systems (GIS)-based approaches that have been employed to measure children's neighborhood geographies for physical activity behaviors. Forty studies were included, most were conducted in the USA. Heterogeneity in GIS methods and measures was found. The majority of studies estimated children's environments using Euclidean or network buffers ranging from 100 m to 5 km. No singular approach to measuring children's physical activity geographies was identified as optimal. Geographic diversity in studies as well as increased use of measures of actual neighborhood exposure are needed. Improved consistency and transparency in reporting research methods is urgently required.

Keywords: Activity space; Adolescent; Children's geographies; Geographic information systems; Health geography; Neighborhood environment; Youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Residence Characteristics*