Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Neighborhood design: Associations between suburban neighborhood morphology and children's outdoor, out-of-school, physical activities
by Thorleifsdottir, Kristin, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 2008, 266; 3329352
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research was to acquire a better understanding of environmental mechanisms associated with the development of sedentary behavior by examining the relationship between suburban neighborhood morphology and children’s outdoor, out-of-school, physical activities. Recent research has documented growing concerns about the rise in health problems among children. These concerns are focusing attention on the impact of sedentary lifestyles and the related effects of community design on children’s health. Further research is needed on the environmental factors associated with the reduction of physical activity among children.

This study examined neighborhood morphology in relation to school-aged children’s outdoor, out-of-school, physical activities, the physical settings they seek, their mobility within the community, and their favorite places. A quantitative-qualitative, multiple case study approach was used in the study of “mixed-use”, “traditional”, and “co-housing” suburban neighborhoods. Triangulation of data was achieved through the use of a standardized parental questionnaire (n=58), a nine-day children’s activity log (n=48), and child-led fieldtrips (n=17). Data analysis took the form of an inductive open-coding process of qualitative data and descriptive statistics of quantifiable data.

The results demonstrated that the frequency and variety of children’s physical activities, the variety of settings they used, the distances they traveled, and their favorite places differed by neighborhood. Values were relatively higher in the mixed-use category, lower in the traditional, and intermediate in the co-housing. A consistent gender difference was identified throughout the findings.

The study also underlines the importance of neighborhood geographical size, proximity of play and recreational areas, and the inclusion of nature settings in the establishment of activity-encouraging neighborhoods.

The results point to a positive relationship between a diversity of developmentally appropriate neighborhood settings and children’s engagement in physical activity. Further, the study offers information on the role of neighborhood design as a catalyst for children’s outdoor physical activities with implications for how the design process can contribute to health-promoting outdoor pursuits and make a significant difference in children’s lives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moore, Robin C., Simeonsson, Rune J.
School: North Carolina State University
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 69/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Landscape architecture, Public health, Recreation, Urban planning
Keywords: Behavior settings, Children, Children's health, Neigh. affordances, Neighborhood design, Neighborhood morphology, Outdoor, Physical activity, Suburban
Publication Number: 3329352
ISBN: 978-0-549-82065-9
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