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Health Educ Res. 2005 Feb;20(1):1-13. Epub 2004 Jul 14.

Children's perceptions of their home and neighborhood environments, and their association with objectively measured physical activity: a qualitative and quantitative study.

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity.utrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia.


Environmental factors may have an important influence on children's physical activity, yet children's perspectives of their home and neighborhood environments have not been widely assessed. The aim of this study was to investigate children's perceptions of their environments, and to examine associations between these perceptions and objectively measured physical activity. The sample consisted of 147, 10-year-old Australian children, who drew maps of their home and neighborhood environments. A subsample of children photographed places and things in these environments that were important to them. The maps were analyzed for themes, and for the frequency with which particular objects and locations appeared. Physical activity was objectively measured using accelerometers. Six themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the maps and photographs: the family home; opportunities for physical activity and sedentary pursuits; food items and locations; green space and outside areas; the school and opportunities for social interaction. Of the 11 variables established from these themes, one home and two neighborhood factors were associated with children's physical activity. These findings contribute to a broader understanding of children's perceptions of their environment, and highlight the potential importance of the home and neighborhood environments for promoting physical activity behavior.

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