Research Study Abstract

Go out and play: Children’s outdoor time and context-specific physical activity by gender

  • Presented on May 21, 2014

Purpose: Being outdoors is as a correlate for enhanced physical activity (PA), but the association has seldom been investigated using objective measures. This paper investigates the association between week day outdoor time and context-specific moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA) by gender.

Methods: Children (n=170, 11-16 years old) from the When Cities Move Children study who had outdoor time data and at least one valid day of 9 hours combined accelerometer and GPS data were included. Daily week day outdoor times and minutes of outdoor MVPA were calculated for a range of contexts; e.g. leisure, school, home, transport, school ground, clubs, playgrounds, recess. Multilevel analyses were used to assess gender differences and the association between outdoor time and MVPA.

Results: Boys spent 29.0% of their daily time outdoors while 22.2% of girls’ time was spent outdoors (p<0.05). The majority of outdoor time was accumulated in school followed by leisure. Boys accumulated 73.8% of their MVPA outdoors and girls 65.3% (p<0.001). A one hour increase in daily outdoor time was associated with 9.9 more minutes of daily MVPA. Across all investigated contexts an increase in outdoor time was associated with an increase in MVPA, with the strongest associations found for school grounds, sport facilities, urban green space and active transport (p<0.001 for both boys and girls).

Conclusions: A strong and persistent association was found for outdoor time and the investigated context-specific places for MVPA. Future longitudinal studies are needed to establish the causal direction and inform policies.


  • Charlotte Klinker
  • Jasper Schipperijn
  • Jacqueline Kerr
  • Jens Troelsen

Presented at

ISBNPA 2014 Annual Conference


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