Where they live, how they play: Neighborhood greenness and outdoor physical activity among preschoolers

Diana S. Grigsby-Toussaint, Sang Hyun Chi, Barbara H. Fiese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Emerging empirical evidence suggests exposure to "green" environments may encourage higher levels of physical activity among children. Few studies, however, have explored this association exclusively in pre-school aged children in the United States. We examined whether residing in neighborhoods with higher levels of greenness was associated with higher levels of outdoor physical activity among preschoolers. In addition, we also explored whether outdoor playing behaviors (e.g., active vs. quiet) were influenced by levels of neighborhood greenness independent of demographic and parental support factors.Results: Higher levels of neighborhood greenness as measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was associated with higher levels of outdoor playing time among preschool-aged children in our sample. Specifically, a one unit increase in neighborhood greenness increased a child's outdoor playing time by approximately 3 minutes. A dose-response relationship was observed between increasing levels of parental support for physical activity (e.g., time spent playing with children) and child outdoor physical activity (p < 0.01).Conclusions: Consistent with previous studies, neighborhood greenness influences physical activity behavior. However, for preschoolers, parental involvement may be more critical for improving physical activity levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
StatePublished - Dec 14 2011


  • Children
  • Greenness
  • Neighborhoods
  • Physical activity
  • Preschoolers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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