International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 135–142 | Cite as

Perceived environment and physical activity in youth

  • Allan J. Fein
  • Ronald C. PlotnikoffEmail author
  • T. Cameron Wild
  • John C. Spence


The examination of physical environments to explain and promote physical activity is an important yet under-investigated area of research inquiry. This study explored relationships between the perceived availability of physical environmental resources and the perceived importance of these resources in relation to physical activity levels amongst youth. A self-report questionnaire was completed by 610 students (mean age = 15.5 years old; 62% female participants) from four high schools (grades 9-12) in rural Alberta, Canada. Perceived physical environment constructs explained 5% of the variance in physical activity, with home, neighborhood, and school as significant domains. Perceived importance constructs explained 8% of the variance in physical activity with school context showing the only significant relationship with physical activity. A hierarchical regression analysis entered sex, grade, self-efficacy, peer, family and physical education teacher relationships, as the first block and eight environmental constructs as the second block. The first block variables accounted for 22% of the variance and environmental constructs accounted for an added 4% of the variance in physical activity. Perceived importance of the school environment was the only environment variable significantly associated with physical activity (β = .14; p < .05) after taking into account the impact of these traditional predictors. These findings reinforce the need to provide and support school physical environments related to physical activity.

Key words

perceived physical environment physical activity youth 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan J. Fein
    • 1
  • Ronald C. Plotnikoff
    • 2
    Email author
  • T. Cameron Wild
    • 3
  • John C. Spence
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Physical Education and HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Health Promotion Studies, Alberta Centre for Active Living and Faculty of Physical Education & RecreationEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Health Promotion Studies and Department of Public Health SciencesEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Faculty of Physical Education & RecreationEdmontonCanada

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