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Christina M. Thornton, Kelli L. Cain, Terry L. Conway, Jacqueline Kerr, Brian E. Saelens, Lawrence D. Frank, Karen Glanz and James F. Sallis


The after-school period provides an opportune context for adolescent physical activity. This study examined how characteristics of after-school recreation environments related to adolescent physical activity.


Participants were 889 adolescents aged 12 to 17 (mean = 14.1, SD = 1.4) from 2 US regions. Adolescents reported on whether their school offered after-school supervised physical activity, access to play areas/fields, and presence of sports facilities. Outcomes were accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity, reported physical activity on school grounds during nonschool hours, attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity excluding school physical education, and BMI-for-age z-score. Mixed regression models adjusted for study design, region, sex, age, ethnicity, vehicles/licensed drivers in household, and distance to school.


School environment variables were all significantly associated with self-reported physical activity on school grounds during non-school hours (P < .001) and attainment of 60 minutes of daily physical activity (P < .05). Adolescents’ accelerometer-measured after-school physical activity was most strongly associated with access to supervised physical activity (P = .008).


Policies and programs that provide supervised after-school physical activity and access to play areas, fields, and sports facilities may help adolescents achieve daily physical activity recommendations.