Relation of Adolescents’ Physical Activity to After-School Recreation Environment

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

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

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.

Thornton is with the Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health (Health Behavior), University of California, San Diego/San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Cain, Conway, and Sallis are with the Dept of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego. Kerr is with the Dept of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego. Saelens is with the Dept of Pediatrics, University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, WA. Frank is with the School of Population and Public Health, and the School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC; and Urban Design 4 Health, Inc., Seattle, WA. Glanz is with the Depts of Epidemiology and Nursing, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA.

Thornton (cmt@ucsd.edu) is corresponding author.
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