Neighborhood Places for Preschool Children's Physical Activity: A Mixed-Methods Study Using Global Positioning System, Geographic Information Systems, and Accelerometry Data

Pulan Bai, Jasper Schipperijn, Michael Rosenberg, Hayley Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: This study adds to the current literature by using a novel device-based method to explore where preschool children are physically active outside of home and childcare settings. This study combined accelerometry with geospatial data to explore the influence of the environment on preschool children's physical activity by objectively identifying the locations where preschool children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) within and outside of their neighborhood. METHODS: Accelerometry, Global Positioning System, and Geographic Information Systems data from 168 preschool children aged 2-5 years were processed in ArcGIS Pro to identify locations (per 25 × 25-m fishnet cell) with high MVPA counts. Locations with high MVPA counts were defined as those with the top 20% of MVPA counts per fishnet cell. The land use for high MVPA count location was determined for 3 domains: <500 m from home, 500 to 1600 m from home, and >1600 m from home. RESULTS: Locations with high MVPA counts <500 m from home were playgrounds (66.6%), schools (16.7%), and parks (16.7%). Locations with high MVPA counts 500 to 1600 m from home included playgrounds (33.3%), nonhome residential (29.6%), childcare centers (11.1%), and parks (3.7%). Locations with high MVPA counts >1600 m from home included nonhome residential (54.7%), sports and recreation centers (11.1%), playgrounds (6.8%), and parks (5.3%). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight that local parks and playgrounds provide physical activity opportunities for preschool children, yet beyond the local neighborhood, the homes of others are important locations for preschool children to accumulate MVPA. These findings can be used to inform the design of current and future neighborhood places to better accommodate preschool children's MVPA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-791
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Activity & Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

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