Research shows regular road closures help children get active

July 31, 2017, University of Bristol
Research shows regular road closures help children get active
Credit: Play England

New research from the University of Bristol shows that playing outside, aided by regular road closures, helps to increase children's physical activity.

The report confirms that temporary street closures help children to meet the daily target of 60 minutes moderate to vigorous physical set out in the government's obesity strategy.

The insights are based on the highly successful Street Play project, funded by the Department of Health, and delivered by Play England with partners Playing Out, London Play and the University of Bristol.

The project supported parents and communities to hold regular road closures, enabling children to play outside in 33 geographically diverse areas, with a sustainable network of over 5,000 volunteers creating over 60,000 additional play opportunities.

The report 'Why temporary street closures for play make sense for public health', led by Professor Angie Page and colleagues in the University of Bristol's School for Policy Studies, found that outdoor, was more likely to replace sedentary and screen-based activities, than physical activities that normally occur after school.

Children wore accelerometers and GPS which showed that physical activity gained during temporary street closures made a meaningful contribution to daily physical activity for both boys and girls.

Since the project's conclusion in March 2016, over 500 streets in 45 different local authority areas are involved in active street play.

Professor Page said: "We know that time spent outdoors is related to greater daily physical activity and reduced risk of obesity. However, few interventions are effective at increasing physical activity in the local environment. This resident-led intervention shows the potential for meaningful increases in as well as social benefits to both children and the communities in which they live. It is relatively low cost, scaleable and potentially sustainable – this is why it makes sense for public health."

A second report, written by researcher and author Tim Gill in response to concerns about the decline in children's opportunities for outdoor play, highlighted a range of factors that influence the likelihood of success of street play initiatives in disadvantaged areas.

Based on interviews with people involved in schemes across five , he showed the benefits of streamlining local authority application procedures and removing cost barriers, as well as noting the importance of local sources of practical support working alongside local authorities.

The report recommends adapting the street play model for housing estates as well as supporting where children spontaneously play already in neighbourhood streets.

Nicola Butler, Chair of Trustees at Play England, said: "Children's time spent outside is falling, particularly amongst girls. Yet the evidence is clear. When children play out they are three times more likely to be physically active. Giving children access to free outdoor play opportunities is the best way of tackling problems like obesity. Not only is active play physically good for children and young people, it helps their mental health too. We need more initiatives like street play at the heart of the government's health and wellbeing agenda."

Alice Ferguson, Co-founder and Managing Director of Playing Out, said: "We are delighted to have hard evidence that shows what we already knew - street play is great for children and for communities. Government and local authorities should now be supporting this in any way they can."

Explore further: Physical activity counselling affects parents and gets children to move

Related Stories

Physical activity counselling affects parents and gets children to move

June 21, 2017
Parents can affect their children's physical activity. A unique finding of a recent study conducted at the University of Jyväskylä in 2011–2013 was that parents who have previously provided little support for their children's ...

Get children playing outdoors to improve academic success and reduce obesity

June 21, 2016
Campaigns to promote physical activity and reduce obesity among children should focus more on active outdoor play, according to a study led at the University of Strathclyde.

Study finds primary school children get less active with age

April 28, 2017
There is an age-related decline in children's physical activity levels as they progress through primary school, according to a British Heart Foundation-funded study.

First study to show parents' concerns about neighborhood restrict kids' outdoor play

January 10, 2017
A study conducted by LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health is the first to demonstrate that parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children's outdoor play. The study is published in the ...

Study reveals new factors that help to increase children's physical activity

July 7, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Physical activity has important benefits for children’s physical health and mental well-being but many children do not meet recommended levels. A new study into the factors which motivate children’s ...

Recommended for you

Don't eat bitter pumpkin, study warns after women lose hair

May 25, 2018
A doctor warned Friday that bitter-tasting pumpkins and squashes can contain potent toxins, after two women were poisoned by their dinners and lost most of their hair.

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

May 24, 2018
A lot can happen at 160 degrees Fahrenheit: Eggs fry, salmonella bacteria dies, and human skin will suffer third-degree burns. If a car is parked in the sun on a hot summer day, its dashboard can hit 160 degrees in about ...

Research finds a little exercise does a lot of good for ageing muscles

May 24, 2018
Getting old doesn't necessarily mean getting weak and frail – just a little bit of exercise can help maintain muscle mass and strength, Otago research has revealed.

In helping smokers quit, cash is king, e-cigarettes strike out

May 23, 2018
Free smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, are a staple of many corporate wellness programs aimed at encouraging employees to kick the habit. But, new research shows that merely offering such aids ...

What makes us well? Diversity, health care, and public transit matter

May 23, 2018
Diverse neighbors. Health centers. Commuter trains. These community attributes, and other key factors, are linked to well-being and quality of life, according to Yale researchers.

Widely used e-cigarette flavoring impairs lung function

May 23, 2018
A new study has found that a common e-cigarette flavoring that has chemical characteristics similar to toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke disrupts an important mechanism of the lungs' antibacterial defense system. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.