Section: Original Research
Authors: Peter James Anthamatten, Lois Brink, Beverly Kingston, Eve Kutchman, Sarah Lampe, and Claudio Nigg
Affiliations: Anthamatten is with Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Denver, CO. Brink is with the Colorado Center for Community Development, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado, Denver, CO. Kingston and Kutchman are with the Institute of Behavioral Science, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado, Denver, CO. Lampe is with the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials, Denver, CO. Nigg is with the Department of Public Health Sciences, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI.
Acceptance Date: October 28, 2012
Background: Careful research that elucidates how behavior relates to design in the context of elementary schoolgrounds can serve to guide cost-efficient design with the goal of encouraging PA. This work explores patterns in children’s physical activity (PA) behavior within playground spaces with the specific goal of guiding healthy playground design.
Methods: Data on children’s utilization and PA behavior in six playgrounds divided into 106 observation zones were collected in 2005 and 2006 at Denver elementary school playgrounds using the System of for Observing Play and Leisure Activity (SOPLAY). ANOVA and t-tests determined whether there were differences in utilization and behavior patterns across observations zones and between genders.
Results: This study provides evidence that children prefer to utilize certain types of playground zones and that they are more likely to practice moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in some zones. The authors observed statistically significant differences between genders. Boys were more likely to engagein MVPA in zones without equipment, girls were more likely to utilize zones with equipment.
Conclusions: This work suggests that the inclusion or omission of specific playground features may have an impact on the way that children utilize the spaces.
Key Words: playground, schools, pattern analysis, exercise