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The impact of the built environment on young people's physical activity patterns: a suburban-rural comparison using GPS

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-06-25, 13:17 authored by Peter Collins, Yahya Al-Nakeeb, Alan M. Nevill, MARK LYONSMARK LYONS
The built environment in which young people live has a significant influence on their physical activity (PA). However, little is known regarding how youth from suburban and rural settings utilise their surrounding environments to participate in free-living PA. 50 adolescents aged 13-14 years old (22 rural; 28 suburban) wore an integrated GPS and heart rate device during non-school hours and completed a daily PA diary over 7 days. Descriptive statistics and analyses of variance were used to explore differences in the amount and location of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) between genders and youth from different geographical settings. Suburban youth participated in significantly (p = 0.004) more daily PA (52.14 minutes MVPA) and were more extensive in their utilisation of their surroundings, compared to rural youth (26.61 minutes MVPA). Suburban youth visited more public recreational facilities and spent significantly more time outdoors and on local streets (109.71 minutes and 44.62 minutes, respectively) compared to rural youth (55.98 minutes and 17.15 minutes, respectively) during weekdays. Rural youth on average spent significantly more time within the home (350.69 minutes) during weekends compared to suburban youth (214.82 minutes). Rural females were the least active group of adolescents, participating in the least amount of daily PA (20.14 minutes MVPA) and spending the least amount of time outdoors (31.37 minutes) during weekdays. Time spent outdoors was positively associated with PA. The findings highlight the disparity in PA levels and the utilisation of the surrounding built environment between youth from two different geographical settings and possible environmental causes are discussed. The study supports the use of GPS (combined with other methods) in investigating geographical differences in young people's PA and movement patterns. This method provides a wealth of information that may assist future policies and interventions in identifying environmental characteristics that promote PA in youth from different geographical settings.



International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health;9, pp. 3030-3050







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