UBC Faculty Research and Publications

What Is the Relationship between the Neighbourhood Built Environment and Time Spent in Outdoor Play? A Systematic Review Lambert, Amalie; Vlaar, Janae; Herrington, Susan; Brussoni, Mariana


Outdoor play has been associated with children’s and adolescents’ healthy development and physical activity. Attributes of the neighbourhood built environment can influence play behaviours. This systematic review examined the relationship between attributes of the neighbourhood built environment and the time children and adolescents (0–18 years) spend in self-directed outdoor play. We identified and evaluated 18 relevant papers using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool and developed a narrative synthesis of study results. We found moderate evidence that lower traffic volumes (ages 6–11), yard access (ages 3–10), and increased neighbourhood greenness (ages 2–15) were positively associated with time spent in outdoor play, as well as limited evidence that specific traffic-calming street features such as fewer intersections, low traffic speeds, neighbourhood disorder, and low residential density were positively associated with time spent in outdoor play. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review on this topic. The limited number of “good quality” studies identified highlights the need for additional research on the topic.

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