Active Living Strategy #13: Provide Safe Places to be Physically Active

Our Healthier Communities Initiatives are built on the concept that local communities can work together to give all community members healthy choices and support the pursuit of healthy lifestyles.  More than 160 Ys are working in collaboration with community leaders to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.




Active Living Strategy #13: Provide Safe Places to be Physically Active

Neighborhoods perceived to be unsafe can be barriers to physical activity. Research shows that people are more likely to engage in physical activity outdoors if they have a safe place to do so.

 

Research shows that people are more likely to engage in physical activity outdoors if they have a safe place to do so. This is especially true for women and children. Living in a neighborhood perceived to be unsafe has been found to be a barrier to physical activity. Implementing specific measures can improve the safety of the area. Some interventions that have effectively provided safe environments for physical activity include opening school playgrounds after school hours and on weekends, closing streets to traffic, and improving street lighting on pedestrian walkways. A study found that inner-city elementary school children reduced screen time over a two-year period after being provided with a supervised schoolyard for use after school hours. Another study found that adults increased their use of a pedestrian walkway and reported feeling safer following lighting improvements.




References

  1. Bennett, G.G., McNeil, L.H., Wolin, K.Y., Duncan, D.T., Puleo, E., & Emmons, K.M. (2007). Safe to walk? Neighborhood safety and physical activity among public housing residents. Public Library of Science Medicine, 4(10), 1599–1606.
  2. Farley, T.A., Meriwether, R.A., Baker, E.T., Watkins, L.T., Johnson, C.C., & Webber, L.S. (2007). Safe play spaces to promote physical activity in inner-city children: Results from a pilot study of an environmental intervention. American Journal of Public Health, 97(9), 1625–1631.
  3. Gomez, J.E., Johnson, B.A., Selva, M., & Sallis, J.F. (2004). Violent crime and outdoor physical activity among inner-city youth. Preventive Medicine, 39, 876–881.
  4. Streets Renaissance Campaign, New York City. (n.d.). From Play Matters: A study of best practices to inform local policy and process in support of children's play. Washington, D.C. http://kaboom.org/docs/documents/pdf/playmatters/Play_Matters_Extended_Case_Studies.pdf. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  5. Painter, K. (1996). The influence of street lighting improvements on crime, fear and pedestrian street use, after dark. Landscape and Urban Planning, 35, 193.

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