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The potential impact of greenspace on physical activity and well-being in Scottish teenagers Justine The potential impact of greenspace on physical activity and well-being in Scottish teenagers Justine Geyer, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), University of Edinburgh Introduction Conceptual Framework – Links between provision Mental well-being and obesity are policy priorities in Scotland where adolescents and children are concerned. Obesity levels are rising in adolescents and there is evidence to suggest this may track in to adulthood 1. Encouragement of active lifestyles is thought to help in the fight against obesity. Greenspace has been associated with improvements in mental well-being and physical activity 2, however there is limited research on children and adolescents. and use of greenspace and physical activity and subjective well-being Greenspace and Physical Activity The concepts of provision and aesthetics have been suggested as explanations of how greenspace encourages increased physical activity levels. Availability of greenspace provides the opportunity for recreation or transport related physical activity. Greenspace can also contribute to the aesthetics of the local environment. More attractive environments may encourage people to come outdoors more often and being outdoors is associated itself with increased levels of physical activity 3, whether or not they actually access the greenspace. Greenspace, Mental Well-being & Developmental Needs Many ideas have been put forward as to how greenspace and other natural environments improve mental well-being. Little focus, however, has centred on how greenspace may meet the needs of certain user groups and how this has the potential to influence mental wellbeing and physical activity. The beneficial effects of green space for adolescents may act through meeting developmental needs. Such needs include establishment of identity; distancing of emotional ties to parents; challenging competencies; learning socialisation skills and retreat 4. Greenspace can provide opportunities to meet friends, away from adult censure and allow experimentation as well as providing places away from others and time for reflection. The ‘fit’ between greenspace and these needs is likely to have significant potential to impact on adolescent attitudes to greenspace and the way in which it is used. This in turn will impact on physical activity and mental wellbeing. Aim of Research The aim of this research is to determine if there is an association between provision, use of green-space and physical activity and levels of subjective well-being in Scottish adolescents. It will also explore their attitudes to green-space; how such spaces support developmental needs and the implications for potential to improve adolescent physical activity and mental well-being. 1 Dietz, W. H. (1997) Periods of risk in childhood for the development of adult obesity - What do we need to learn? Journal of Nutrition, 127, 1884 S-1886 S. Croucher et al. (2007) The links between greenspace and health: a critical literature review. Stirling, greenspace scotland. 2 3 NICE (2009) Promoting physical activity, active play and sport for pre-school and school-age children and young people in family, pre-school, school and community settings, NICE Public Health Guidance 17 Clark & Uzzell (2006) The socio-environmental affordances of adolescents' environments. IN SPENCER, C. & BLADES, M. (Eds. ) Children and their Environments: Learning, Using and Designing Spaces. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 4 Supervised by: Professor Candace Currie (CAHRU, Edinburgh University) and Professor Pete Higgins (Outdoor Education, Edinburgh University) Ability Mobility Licence Socially acceptable behaviour Parental restrictions Weather Action (realised affordance) Opportunity Potential influence on Level of physical activity Social interactions Autonomy Competency Retreat Exposure to sunlight Exposure to toxins/fresh air Quality of experience Use of greenspace Tyoe of activity Duration of activity Length of stay Provision Number Type, (features, function, size) Access (distance, obstructions) Quality Intent Aesthetics Positive Affect Negative Affect Subjective Well-being Life Satisfaction Domains of Life Satisfaction Living environment Friends Family School Components of subjective wellbeing Components of Gibson’s theory of affordances Methods An innovative, mixed methods approach will combine the use of: • A self-completion questionnaire for urban 13 and 15 year old girls and boys. • A combination of geospatial and physical activity behaviour monitoring for one week using GPS-enabled mobile phones and AM 7164 uni-axial accelerometers. GPS co-ordinates will be combined in a geographical information system with Local Authority greenspace audit data to determine the level of greenspace use for each participant. The accelerometer data will allow identification of physical activity specifically occurring in greenspace. • Administration of a daily questionnaire by mobile phone to elicit mood state and social interactions in greenspace. • Semi-structured interviews with a selection of monitored participants. Maps showing the participant’s GPS trace will be used as a focus for discussion of attitudes and behaviours in greenspace. Piloting There are no established greenspace use questions for adolescents. New questions were piloted in schools. The term greenspace caused confusion. Focus groups revealed responses on use tended to underestimate time spent in greenspace, suggesting simple questions may limit responses to more obvious types of greenspace e. g. parks. . The questions were modified and a pre-pilot suggested these were useful. A full pilot is arranged for mid-June. A GPS phone was tested for accuracy, battery life, ease of use, acceptability to teenagers and ability to administer a daily questionnaire. It performed well on all counts. Justine Geyer | CAHRU | The Moray House School of Education The University of Edinburgh | Holyrood Road | Edinburgh EH 8 8 AQ Tel 0131 6552 | Fax 0131 651 6271 | Email j. [email protected] ed. ac. uk