This study investigates the influence of school playground facilities on children’s daily physical activity.
Participants were 594 school children measured at preschool (age 6 to 7 years) and 3 years later in third grade (518 children age 9 to 10 years) from 18 schools in 2 suburban municipalities in Denmark. Physical activity data were obtained using accelerometers. These were related to the number of permanent play facilities in school grounds and the school playground area (m2).
The number of play facilities in the school grounds was positively associated with all measures of children’s activity. In preschool every 10 additional play facilities the children had access to was associated with an increase in the average accelerometer counts of 14% (r = .273, P < .001) in school time and 6.9% (r = .195, P < .001) overall. For the children in third grade, access to 10 additional play facilities was associated with an increase in school time activity level of 26% (r = .364, P < .001) and an increase in overall activity level of 9.4% (r = .211, P < .001). School playground area did not affect activity levels independently of the number of permanent play facilities.
Increasing the number of play facilities in primary school playgrounds may increase the level of children’s daily physical activity.
Nielsen is with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Bugge, Hermansen, and Svensson are with the Center for Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. Andersen is with the Dept of Sport Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway, and the Center for Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.