Studying Physical Activity in Childrens Environments across Scotland MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit

Study Information

SPACES is a multi-stage project that began in January 2013. The core subject matter being investigated within the project is children’s physical activity (PA) in the built and natural environment.

There is a body of knowledge that relates to the ‘how much’, ‘how often’, and ‘how intense’ of Scottish children’s activity levels, however, little is known about the ‘where’ of Scottish children’s activity, and how this activity changes depending on geographic location (e.g. urban v rural living) and area level deprivation. Gaining insight into the answers of these important questions can be used in a number of ways, with the ultimate ambition of increasing population activity levels and reducing any social inequalities.

Study Progression

Working with Scotcen and the Growing Up in Scotland birth cohort, we will be inviting c.2,500 children to wear an accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X+) and a GPS device (QStarz) during waking hours for eight consecutive days. The main data collection for the SPACES project is envisaged to begin in April 2015. Currently, the SPACES team are in the process of finalising the last minute procedural details but hope to get things underway on time.

As part of the main data collection, the SPACES project has a PhD study embedded within its structure. This study, called COOPA (Children's Opportunities for Outdoor Physical Activity), is being led by Felicity Hayball who will take a qualitative approach to understanding children's physical activity in the built and natural environment, thereby supplementing our quantitatively driven primary data collection. Her focus will include the environmental perceptions of Scottish children, how these affect actual PA levels, and how these vary across levels of urbanicity and socio-economic status. Additionally, Felicity will investigate the environmental barriers (perceived) and facilitators that motivate Scottish children's actvity, as well as spending time on extracting environmental characteristics that may encourage activity.

The SPACES project consists of two main components:

1. Participants will be asked to wear an accelerometer and GPS device, for waking hours, on eight consecutive days (SPACES only).

2. Participants will be asked to wear an accelerometer and GPS device, for waking hours, on eight consecutive days and also invited to take part in a qualitative follw up study that will investigate the participants perceptions of their local environments (SPACES & COOPA).