Is the grass always greener in suburban neighborhoods? Outdoors play in suburban and inner-city neighborhoods

Mika R. Moran, Pnina Plaut, Dafna Merom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children’s outdoors play (OP) is an important source of physical activity that has been decreasing in recent years due to changes in neighborhood design, parent safety concerns and child sedentary leisure. However, few studies examined such determinants from children’s perspectives. This study explores environmental and socio-cultural aspects of children’s OP using a qualitative and quantitative approach. Data was collected in two phases: (1) a survey on OP and related variables among 5th and 6th graders (10–12 years old) (n = 573); and (2) a mapping activity and semi-structured interview among a subsample of the survey (n = 80). The most common locations for routine OP were parks (40%) followed by public facilities (26%) and streets (17%). OP was significantly associated with perceived environment, independent mobility and gender, but not with neighborhood type. Inner-city participants reported a higher number and greater variety of OP areas (23 vs. 14). Three main barriers of OP were identified—low quality and poorly maintained play areas, other people in public spaces, and social norms that undermine OP. Thus, in order to encourage routine OP, environmental change to create safe and attractive OP settings should be accompanied by community interventions to enhance social norms that are supportive of OP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number759
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors.


  • Children
  • Mixed methods
  • Neighborhood
  • Outdoors play
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Is the grass always greener in suburban neighborhoods? Outdoors play in suburban and inner-city neighborhoods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this