Being able to bike/walk to community recreation sites is an important determinant of how frequently they are used

Grow, H. M., Saelens, B. E., Kerr, J., Durant, N. H., Norman, G. J., & Sallis, J. F. (2008). Where are youth active? Roles of proximity, active transport, and built environment. Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 40, 2071-2079.

Grow and colleagues investigated children's and adolescents' active use of 12 different types of community recreation sites; the relationships between proximity, walking/biking, and use of recreation sites; and relationships between neighborhood characteristics and whether children bike/walk to recreation sites. Researchers surveyed 89 parents of five- to ten-year-old children and 124 eleven- to eighteen-year-old adolescents, along with their parents, from three U.S. cities. In analyzing the data, Grow and colleagues found that the mean number of recreation sites children were reported to use at least every other week was 4.9, while adolescents reported using a mean of 3.6 sites at least every other week. Parents reported that children most commonly used swimming pools, small public parks, and playgrounds, while adolescents reported most commonly using play fields/courts, indoor recreation facilities, and swimming pools. In examining whether proximity to sites was related to their frequency of use, Grow and colleagues found that living within a 10-minute walk of large public parks and public open space increased the likelihood that children and adolescents used these sites. In addition, while specific results varied by age, Grow and colleagues found that walking/biking to a recreation site was significantly related to the use of a number of sites, and in most cases was more important than the proximity of the site. Finally, in examining the relationship between neighborhood factors and active transport to recreation sites, researchers found that perceived traffic safety, pedestrian infrastructure, and crime threat were the most important determinants of whether adolescents biked/walked to a site. This study highlights the importance of creating communities and policies that support children's and adolescent's ability to bike/walk to recreation sites.

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