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Health Place. 2008 Jun;14(2):217-27. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

Playing it safe: the influence of neighbourhood safety on children's physical activity. A review.

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, VIC, Australia.


Compared with previous generations, children spend less time playing outdoors and have lower participation rates in active transport. Many studies have identified lack of neighbourhood safety as a potential barrier to children's physical activity. This review describes concerns regarding 'stranger danger' and road safety, and discusses empirical studies that examine associations between neighbourhood safety and physical activity among youth. Variability of perceptions of safety between parents and youth are examined; 'social traps' are identified; and physical/social environmental interventions aimed at improving neighbourhood safety are discussed. A research agenda is suggested for further study of perceived and objective measures of neighbourhood safety and their associations with children's physical activity.

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