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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(7), 759; doi:10.3390/ijerph14070759

Is the Grass Always Greener in Suburban Neighborhoods? Outdoors Play in Suburban and Inner-City Neighborhoods

Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 320003, Israel
School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 May 2017 / Revised: 3 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 July 2017 / Published: 11 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social and Environmental Influences on Physical Activity Behaviours)
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Children’s outdoors play (OP) is an important source of physical activity that has been decreasing in recent years due to changes in neighborhood design, parent safety concerns and child sedentary leisure. However, few studies examined such determinants from children’s perspectives. This study explores environmental and socio-cultural aspects of children’s OP using a qualitative and quantitative approach. Data was collected in two phases: (1) a survey on OP and related variables among 5th and 6th graders (10–12 years old) (n = 573); and (2) a mapping activity and semi-structured interview among a subsample of the survey (n = 80). The most common locations for routine OP were parks (40%) followed by public facilities (26%) and streets (17%). OP was significantly associated with perceived environment, independent mobility and gender, but not with neighborhood type. Inner-city participants reported a higher number and greater variety of OP areas (23 vs. 14). Three main barriers of OP were identified—low quality and poorly maintained play areas, other people in public spaces, and social norms that undermine OP. Thus, in order to encourage routine OP, environmental change to create safe and attractive OP settings should be accompanied by community interventions to enhance social norms that are supportive of OP. View Full-Text
Keywords: outdoors play; neighborhood; mixed methods; children; physical activity outdoors play; neighborhood; mixed methods; children; physical activity

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Moran, M.R.; Plaut, P.; Merom, D. Is the Grass Always Greener in Suburban Neighborhoods? Outdoors Play in Suburban and Inner-City Neighborhoods. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 759.

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