Why playground spatial features are important.
Being outdoors is one of the strongest correlates of physical activity in children. Playgrounds are spaces especially designed to enable and foster physical activity in children.
The number of children using the playgrounds and the number of children actively playing in them were higher in those with more varied facilities and without naturalness. Girls played more actively in playgrounds without multi-purpose areas. Cleanliness, esthetics, play facility quality, division of functional areas and playground size were not related to any outcome variable.
We were able to show that the provision of a variety of play facilities fostered playground usage in children and that playgrounds without naturalness were visited more frequently by children than natural playgrounds. Playground spatial features are related to playground usage and activity levels of the children in the playgrounds. Playgrounds should offer a wide variety of play facilities and provide spaces for diverse play activities to respond to the needs of large numbers of different children and to provide activity-friendly areas enabling their healthy development.
Thus usage and physical activity levels differed between playgrounds and that playground spatial features were related to children’s playground usage and activity levels. We suggest that playgrounds should offer a wide variety of play facilities and provide spaces (e.g., paved areas) for different play activities like ball games and objects to play with, such as huts, to respond to the needs of as many children of both genders as possible.