Improving Adolescent's Physical Activity in Delhi: An Evaluation of Outdoor School Environments
Background: India has a large burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), one that is only projected to increase in the coming decades. One important risk factor of NCDs is physical inactivity, which can be influenced by the built environment. In order to reduce prevalence and incidence of NCDs, there needs to be an increased focus on preventative measures in adolescents. One way that is possible is through improving the built environment for adolescents - specifically the built environment of school grounds, which is a unique environment that is specific to all adolescents.
Study Objectives: This study sought to understand the built environment of school grounds. Specifically, to analyze how there may be potential ways that the school grounds can be conducive to physical activity.
Methods: This study analyzed the built environment of private school grounds in New Delhi, India (n=16). The analysis used the SPEEDY school grounds audit tool. STATA 12 was utilized to calculate inter-rater reliability. STATA 12 was also utilized to analyze summary scores for each category.
Results: No safety signs were present in the surrounding area of schools. Also, less than 15% of schools had cycle lanes separated from the road, pavements on either sides or both sides of the road, and marked pedestrian crossing. Over 90% of schools had playground equipment, over 50% had courts, and over 50% had quadrangles. Less than 10% had covered bicycle parking. For over 50% of schools, auditors agreed or strongly agreed that the school grounds was shielded from surrounding areas, generally well maintained, and generally free of vandalism.
Conclusions: The surrounding area of schools need to be improved to allow for more safety for students who want to travel to school by bicycle or walking. Also, modal quality for school grounds can be improved from adequate to good.
Overall, this study indicates that more research on this topic needs to be done in order to more rigorously understand how to make school grounds most conducive to physical activity for adolescents. New methods of measuring the built environment in an urban setting in a developing world may be needed.
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