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

44 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

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Where can they play? Outdoor spaces and physical activity among adolescents in U.S. urbanized areas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this