Housing and Community Environments vs. Independent Mobility: Roles in Promoting Childrens Independent Travel and Unsupervised Outdoor Play Academic Article uri icon


  • Childrens independent mobility (CIM) has declined dramatically in recent decades despite its benefits in facilitating childhood development, promoting physical activity, and combating the obesity epidemic. This US-based study examines the impacts of housing and neighborhood environments on two modes of CIMhome-based independent travel to non-school destinations and unsupervised outdoor playwhile considering personal and social factors. A bilingual parent/guardian survey was distributed to public elementary schools in Austin, Texas, asking about childrens travel and play, housing and neighborhood environments, and personal and social factors. A Google Street View audit was conducted to capture additional housing-related information. Logistic regressions were used to predict CIM. For second to fifth graders (N = 525), less than two-thirds of the parents would allow childrens independent travel to non-school destinations (62%) and unsupervised outdoor play (57.9%), with the majority limited to a short distance (five-minute walk) and a few destinations (e.g., friends/relatives home). Stranger danger was a negative predictor and the presence of friends/relatives home was a positive predictor for both modes of CIM. Quality of neighborhood environment was another positive correlate for independent travel to non-school destinations. Significant personal and social factors were also identified. Study findings demonstrated the impacts of physical environments on CIM and the potential of using relevant interventions to promote childrens health and development.

published proceedings

  • International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Qiu, L., & Zhu, X

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM