Where can they play? Outdoor spaces and physical activity among adolescents in U.S. urbanized areas

Janne Boone-Heinonen, Kathleen Casanova, Andrea S. Richardson, Penny Gordon-Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objective: To estimate behavior-specific effects of several objectively measured outdoor spaces on different types of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in a large, diverse sample of U.S. adolescents. Methods: Using data from Wave I (1994-1995) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (U.S., n= 10,359) and a linked geographic information system, we calculated percent greenspace coverage and distance to the nearest neighborhood and major parks. Using sex-stratified multivariable logistic regression, we modeled reported participation in wheel-based activities, active sports, exercise, and ≥ 5 MVPA bouts/week as a function of each outdoor space variable, controlling for individual- and neighborhood-level sociodemographics. Results: Availability of major or neighborhood parks was associated with higher participation in active sports and, in females, wheel-based activity and reporting ≥ 5 MVPA bouts/week [OR (95% CI): up to 1.71 (1.29, 2.27)]. Greater greenspace coverage was associated with reporting ≥ 5 MVPA bouts/week in males and females [OR (95% CI): up to 1.62 (1.10, 2.39) for 10.1 to 20% versus ≥ 10% greenspace] and exercise participation in females [OR (95% CI): up to 1.73 (1.21, 2.49)]. Conclusions: Provision of outdoor spaces may promote different types of physical activities, with potentially greater benefits in female adolescents, who have particularly low physical activity levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-298
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Environment design
  • Epidemiology
  • Physical activity
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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