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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 109841, 9 pages
Research Article

Does Playground Improvement Increase Physical Activity among Children? A Quasi-Experimental Study of a Natural Experiment

1Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Camperdown Campus, NSW, Australia
3IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, School of Medicine, Deakin University, VIC, Australia

Received 8 March 2013; Accepted 20 May 2013

Academic Editor: Pam R. Factor-Litvak

Copyright © 2013 Erika E. Bohn-Goldbaum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Outdoor recreational spaces have the potential to increase physical activity. This study used a quasi-experimental evaluation design to determine how a playground renovation impacts usage and physical activity of children and whether the visitations correlate with children’s physical activity levels and parental impressions of the playground. Observational data and intercept interviews were collected simultaneously on park use and park-based activity among playground visitors at pre- and postrenovation at an intervention and a comparison park during three 2-hour periods each day over two weeks. No detectable difference in use between parks was observed at followup. In the intervention park, attendance increased among boys, but decreased among girls although this (nonsignificant) decline was less marked than in the comparison park. Following renovation, there was no detectable difference between parks in the number of children engaged in MVPA (interaction between park and time: ). At the intervention park, there was a significant decline in girls engaging in MVPA at followup ( ). Usage was correlated with parental/carer perceptions of playground features but not with physical activity levels. Renovations have limited the potential to increase physical activity until factors influencing usage and physical activity behavior are better understood.