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Are children's perceptions of neighbourhood social environments associated with their walking and physical activity?
journal contributionposted on 01.11.2009, 00:00 authored by Clare Hume, Michelle K Jorna, Lauren ArundellLauren Arundell, Julie Anne Saunders, David CrawfordDavid Crawford, Jo SalmonJo Salmon
This study aimed to examine cross-sectional associations between neighbourhood social environmental factors and physical activity (PA) among Australian primary school children. Baseline data from a large-scale trial among 957 children (48% boys) aged 9–12 years were utilised. Children self-reported their perceptions of the neighbourhood social environment including social networks (e.g. there are lots of other children around to play with), and social capital (e.g. there are lots of people in my area I could go to if I need help). Children also self-reported their weekly walking frequency and PA from which average daily moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) was calculated. Linear regression analyses examined these associations. Boys performed 17 min/day more MVPA than girls (p < 0.01), and girls performed one extra trip/week than boys (p < 0.001). Children’s perceptions of social capital (p < 0.0001) and social networks (p < 0.01) were both positively associated with MVPA and social capital was positively associated with walking frequency (p < 0.05). These associations were not moderated by the child’s sex. These findings suggest that children who had positive perceptions of neighbourhood social capital and social networks in the neighbourhood, tended to be more physically active. Longitudinal and experimental studies are required to further test the influence of these factors among children.