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Access to Safe Parks Helps Increase Physical Activity Among Teenagers

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Publication Date: December 2005

Publisher(s): UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Author(s): Susan H. Babey; E. Richard Brown; Theresa A. Hastert

Funder(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Funder(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Topic: Health (Health promotion)
Health (Health care planning)

Keywords: adolescents; physical activity; California

Type: Brief

Coverage: California


More than one in four California adolescents -- nearly one million in all -- get less than the recommended levels of physical activity, but neighborhood characteristics and access to safe parks have an important effect on whether teens meet activity recommendations, and whether they get any activity at all reports this new health policy research brief using data from the 2003 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS 2003).

More teens with access to a safe park get regular physical activity and fewer who have access to a safe park are inactive compared to those who do not have access to a safe park. Access to parks is particularly important for the activity levels of adolescents living in urban areas and for those from low-income families, those living in multi-unit apartment buildings, and those living in neighborhoods perceived as unsafe.

This brief presents policy recommendations aimed at improving neighborhood environments and access to parks to encourage physical activity by California adolescents.