Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Jason Gilliland


Childhood obesity rates have risen dramatically since 1981, in part due to decreased physical activity (PA) levels. Research suggests that PA is influenced in part by an individual’s exposure to and engagement with their built environment. Using a multi-tool protocol, this thesis examines how (a) neighbourhood opportunities facilitate or constrain children’s moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and (b) contextual environmental exposure facilitates or constrains children’s MVPA. Results suggest that children’s MVPA is influenced by their built environment, but more so by the contextual environments that they are directly exposed to rather than their overall neighbourhood settings. Children are mobile and unlikely to never leave their neighbourhood, especially considering that many parents drive their children to activities outside their neighbourhood. Examining contextual environmental exposure is a novel approach that can be used by researchers to clarify the environments that exert an influence on children’s MVPA.