Children in residential children’s homes (RCH) may be at increased risk for physical inactivity due to decreased access to opportunities for activity. Little is known about environmental determinants of physical activity for children in RCH.
Thirty-minute blocks of MVPA and Total METs were measured using the 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR). A staff interview, based on the Structural Ecologic Model of Health Behavior, assessed physical activity opportunities, structures, characteristics, policies, and social environment. Wilcoxon 2-sample tests were used to examine differences in environment by location and presence of a recreation director. Mixed model ANOVAs assessed the differences in child level activity by environmental variables.
There were significant correlations between opportunities and characteristics of physical activity, facilities, and equipment with total METS for children. Children in homes with a recreation director and homes in rural locations reported more physical activity. Only rural location had a significant effect on physical activity. Presence of a recreation director was significant in several models.
Rural location may be conducive for increased physical activity in children at RCH. Employing a recreation director or other trained personnel may be an important policy determinant of physical activity for children.