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Health Educ Res. 2010 Apr;25(2):248-56. doi: 10.1093/her/cyn050. Epub 2008 Oct 20.

The characteristics of the outdoor school environment associated with physical activity.

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  • 1Faculty of Psychology, Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Christiesgate 13, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.


The school is an important setting for physical activity. The purpose of the present study was to examine the association between physical environmental characteristics and participation in daily physical activity during school breaks. Data from 130 schools and 16 471 students (Grades 4-10) in Norway were obtained in 2004 through self-administered questionnaires to principals and students. Multilevel logistic regression models revealed that boys at secondary level with a larger number of outdoor facilities at school had 2.69 times [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.21-5.98] and girls 2.90 times (95% CI = 1.32-6.37) higher odds of being physically active compared with students in schools with fewer facilities. Boys at secondary level with areas for hopscotch/skipping rope had 2.53 times (95% CI = 1.55-4.13), with a soccer field 1.68 times (95% CI = 1.15-2.45), with playground equipment 1.66 times (95% CI = 1.16-2.37) and with a sledding hill 1.70 times (95% CI = 1.23-2.35) higher odds to be physically active compared with students in schools without these facilities. A sledding hill was also associated with girls' physical activity participation in secondary school (odds ratio = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.11-2.24). Outdoor facilities in secondary schools are associated with students' daily physical activity participation during school breaks. Therefore, improving the outdoor environment should be considered in physical activity promotion school programs in secondary schools.

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