The Environmental Factors Determining the Physical Activity of Children: A Narrative Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 International UNESCO center for Health Related Basic Sciences and Human Nutrition, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Division of Medical Education, Falmer, Brighton, Sussex BN1 9PH, UK.

3 Lung Diseases Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.


The levels of physical activity (PA) is an important  for the health of children and environmental factors play a vital role in shaping children's attitudes, behavior and physical-mental development. Hence the identification of the environmental factors that may contribute to children`s health is important. The relevant literature between 2015-2020 was reviewed, and the factors classified according to three principal environments of home, neighborhood and school. Findings highlight the need for more studies, especially into contextual factors and design-related characteristics of the environments. Increasing child`s PA opportunities including active play and commute vs. sedentary behavior (SB) in all of the three environments were suggested through: 1) proper presence and availability of PA supportive places (either indoors or outdoors), routes (sidewalks, cycling routes) and equipment, 2) consideration of practical threshold for walking/cycling time and distance to schools and neighborhood destinations, 3) provision of neighborhood with more traffic/social safety, 4) limitation of child`s sedentary time (ST), SB supportive devices number and accessibility, 5) emphasizing the importance of teachers, child care providers and family role (role modeling, support, attitude, rules, socioeconomic status (SES), perceptions, concerns, priorities and physical-mental health). Implementation of policies and measures targeted at enhancement of the environments PA supportive qualities simultaneous with promotion of knowledge of planners, designers, teachers, child care providers and families about children`s PA importance is needed.


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