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Correlates of children's independent outdoor play: Cross-sectional analyses from the Millennium Cohort Study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Daniel Aggio, Benjamin Gardner, Justin Roberts, James Johnstone, Brendon Stubbs, Genevieve Williams, Guillermo Felipe López Sánchez, Lee Smith

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-14
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Early online date5 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


King's Authors


Time spent outdoors is associated with higher levels of physical activity. To date, correlates of independent outdoor play have not been investigated. This study aimed to identify potential demographic, behavioural, environmental and social correlates of children's independent outdoor play. Data were from the Millennium Cohort Study when children were aged 7 years. Parents reported whether their children played out unsupervised (yes/no) as well as the above mentioned correlates of unsupervised outdoor play. Children's physical activity levels were measured using waist worn accelerometry. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine associations between correlates and odds of independent (unsupervised) outdoor play. Adjusted multiple linear regression was used to estimate associations between independent outdoor play and objective measures of physical activity. Activity was measured as average daily moderate-to-vigorous activity, steps, and sedentary behaviour. 3856 (n = 29%) participants were categorised as engaging in independent outdoor play. Older age, being white British, being in poverty, living in close proximity to both family friends and family, having fewer internalising problems, having more externalising conduct problems and fewer pro-social behaviours were associated with higher odds of independent outdoor play. Independent outdoor play was associated with > 2 additional minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity (B = 2.21 95% CI, 1.09 to 3.34), > 330 additional steps per day (B = 336.66 95% CI 209.80 to 463.51), and nearly 5 min less time spent sedentary per day (B = − 4.91 95% CI − 7.54, − 2.29) Younger children, those from a higher socio-economic-status, those isolated in location from family friends and family, and those with high levels of prosocial behaviour have lower levels of independent outdoor play. Independent outdoor play was associated with higher levels of physical activity and less time sedentary. Future interventions to promote independent outdoor play should target such populations.

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