Locations of Physical Activity as Assessed by GPS in Young Adolescents

Jordan A Carlson, Jasper Schipperijn, Jacqueline Kerr, Brian E Saelens, Loki Natarajan, Lawrence D Frank, Karen Glanz, Terry L Conway, Jim E Chapman, Kelli L Cain, James F Sallis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To compare adolescents' physical activity at home, near home, at school, near school, and at other locations.

METHODS: Adolescents (N = 549) were ages 12 to 16 years (49.9% girls, 31.3% nonwhite or Hispanic) from 447 census block groups in 2 US regions. Accelerometers and Global Positioning System devices assessed minutes of and proportion of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in each of the 5 locations. Mixed-effects regression compared MVPA across locations and demographic factors.

RESULTS: Forty-two percent of adolescents' overall MVPA occurred at school, 18.7% at home, 18.3% in other (nonhome, nonschool) locations, and 20.6% near home or school. Youth had 10 more minutes (30% more) of overall MVPA on school days than on nonschool days. However, the percentage of location time spent in MVPA was lowest at school (4.8% on school days) and highest near home and near school (9.5%-10.4%). Girls had 2.6 to 5.5 fewer minutes per day of MVPA than boys in all locations except near school.

CONCLUSIONS: Although a majority of adolescents' physical activity occurred at school, the low proportion of active time relative to the large amount of time spent at school suggests potential for increasing school-based activity. Increasing time spent in the neighborhood appears promising for increasing overall physical activity, because a high proportion of neighborhood time was active. Increasing youth physical activity to support metabolic health requires strategies for increasing use of physical activity-supportive locations (eg, neighborhoods) and environmental and program improvements in unsupportive locations (eg, schools, homes).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20152430
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

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