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      Changes in frequency of park/playground utilization among children aged 4–59 months in Los Angeles County, California 2008–2020


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          • Every day and 3–6 d/wk park use rose from 2008 to 2017, and declined in 2020.

          • Never park use declined from 2008 (12.2%) to 2017 (8.5%) and rose in 2020 (35.5%).

          • Children 24–59 mo had 36% lower every day park use odds in 2020 than 2008.

          • Children 24–59 mo had 85–89% lower 3–6 and 1-2d/wk park use odds in 2020 than 2008.

          • Children 4–23 mo had similar patterns in park utilization frequency 2008–2020.


          Child physical activity and play are critical for healthy development, and parks/playgrounds are important public spaces that provide physical activity/play opportunities. This study was conducted to assess changes in park/playground utilization by Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)-participating children from 2008 to 2020, and whether the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with lower park/playground utilization and racial/ethnic disparities in park/playground utilization. Cross-sectional data from the 2008–2020 triennial Los Angeles County WIC Survey (n = 21,886) were used, and analyses stratified by child age (4–23 months, 24–59 months). Odds ratios (OR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) for the relationship between year and park/playground utilization frequency were determined from multinomial logistic regression, and racial/ethnic disparities were assessed by interacting year with race/ethnicity. Among children 24–59 months of age, park/playground utilization increased compared to never from 2011 to 2017 compared to 2008 (Every day, 2011–2017: OR [95 % CI]: 2.69 [1.93, 3.75], 4.71 [3.23, 6.86], 10.20 [6.91, 15.06]; 3–6 days/week 2011–2017: 1.54 [1.13, 2.10], 3.11 [2.18, 4.45], 3.94 [2.71, 5.72]; 1–2 days/week, 2014–2017; 1.53 [1.08, 2.18], 1.63 [1.13, 2.37]). Associations reversed in 2020, with 36 % lower odds of every day (OR [95 % CI]: 0.64 [0.48, 0.85]), 85 % lower odds of 3–6 days/week (0.15 [0.11, 0.20]) and 89 % lower odds of 1–2 days/week (0.11 [0.09, 0.15]) park/playground utilization compared to never than in 2008. Park/playground utilization frequency increased from 2008 to 2017, but progress reversed during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Results for children ages 4–23 months were similar. Future public health restrictions to public recreation facilities should consider realistic limitations to potential benefits and the potential for unintended consequences before implementation.

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          Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth

          Background The purpose was to: 1) perform a systematic review of studies examining the relation between physical activity, fitness, and health in school-aged children and youth, and 2) make recommendations based on the findings. Methods The systematic review was limited to 7 health indicators: high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, the metabolic syndrome, obesity, low bone density, depression, and injuries. Literature searches were conducted using predefined keywords in 6 key databases. A total of 11,088 potential papers were identified. The abstracts and full-text articles of potentially relevant papers were screened to determine eligibility. Data was abstracted for 113 outcomes from the 86 eligible papers. The evidence was graded for each health outcome using established criteria based on the quantity and quality of studies and strength of effect. The volume, intensity, and type of physical activity were considered. Results Physical activity was associated with numerous health benefits. The dose-response relations observed in observational studies indicate that the more physical activity, the greater the health benefit. Results from experimental studies indicate that even modest amounts of physical activity can have health benefits in high-risk youngsters (e.g., obese). To achieve substantive health benefits, the physical activity should be of at least a moderate intensity. Vigorous intensity activities may provide even greater benefit. Aerobic-based activities had the greatest health benefit, other than for bone health, in which case high-impact weight bearing activities were required. Conclusion The following recommendations were made: 1) Children and youth 5-17 years of age should accumulate an average of at least 60 minutes per day and up to several hours of at least moderate intensity physical activity. Some of the health benefits can be achieved through an average of 30 minutes per day. [Level 2, Grade A]. 2) More vigorous intensity activities should be incorporated or added when possible, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone [Level 3, Grade B]. 3) Aerobic activities should make up the majority of the physical activity. Muscle and bone strengthening activities should be incorporated on at least 3 days of the week [Level 2, Grade A].
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            Early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and sedentary behavior in children living in the U.S.

            Background COVID-19 restrictions such as the closure of schools and parks, and the cancellation of youth sports and activity classes around the United States may prevent children from achieving recommended levels of physical activity (PA). This study examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on PA and sedentary behavior (SB) in U.S. children. Method Parents and legal guardians of U.S. children (ages 5–13) were recruited through convenience sampling and completed an online survey between April 25–May 16, 2020. Measures included an assessment of their child’s previous day PA and SB by indicating time spent in 11 common types of PA and 12 common types of SB for children. Parents also reported perceived changes in levels of PA and SB between the pre-COVID-19 (February 2020) and early-COVID-19 (April–May 2020) periods. Additionally, parents reported locations (e.g., home/garage, parks/trails, gyms/fitness centers) where their children had performed PA and their children’s use of remote/streaming services for PA. Results From parent reports, children (N = 211) (53% female, 13% Hispanic, Mage = 8.73 [SD = 2.58] years) represented 35 states and the District of Columbia. The most common physical activities during the early-COVID-19 period were free play/unstructured activity (e.g., running around, tag) (90% of children) and going for a walk (55% of children). Children engaged in about 90 min of school-related sitting and over 8 h of leisure-related sitting a day. Parents of older children (ages 9–13) vs. younger children (ages 5–8) perceived greater decreases in PA and greater increases in SB from the pre- to early-COVID-19 periods. Children were more likely to perform PA at home indoors or on neighborhood streets during the early- vs. pre-COVID-19 periods. About a third of children used remote/streaming services for activity classes and lessons during the early-COVID-19 period. Conclusion Short-term changes in PA and SB in reaction to COVID-19 may become permanently entrenched, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in children. Programmatic and policy strategies should be geared towards promoting PA and reducing SB over the next 12 months.
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              The significance of parks to physical activity and public health: a conceptual model.

              Park-based physical activity is a promising means to satisfy current physical activity requirements. However, there is little research concerning what park environmental and policy characteristics might enhance physical activity levels. This study proposes a conceptual model to guide thinking and suggest hypotheses. This framework describes the relationships between park benefits, park use, and physical activity, and the antecedents/correlates of park use. In this classification scheme, the discussion focuses on park environmental characteristics that could be related to physical activity, including park features, condition, access, aesthetics, safety, and policies. Data for these categories should be collected within specific geographic areas in or around the park, including activity areas, supporting areas, the overall park, and the surrounding neighborhood. Future research should focus on how to operationalize specific measures and methodologies for collecting data, as well as measuring associations between individual physical activity levels and specific park characteristics. Collaboration among many disciplines is needed.

                Author and article information

                Prev Med Rep
                Preventive Medicine Reports
                06 September 2022
                October 2022
                06 September 2022
                : 29
                Division of Research and Evaluation, Public Health Foundation Enterprises WIC, a Program of Heluna Health, 12781 Schabarum Ave, Irwindale, CA 91706, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. christophera@ 123456phfewic.org
                S2211-3355(22)00283-2 101976
                © 2022 The Authors

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 18 April 2022
                : 29 August 2022
                : 2 September 2022
                Regular Article

                park,playground,physical activity,covid-19,disparities,play,child health,ci, confidence interval,fpl, federal poverty level,lac, los angeles county,or, odds ratio,usd, united states dollars,wic, the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children


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