Children walk and cycle less than they used to. This has implications for their amount of physical activity and hence for their health. This lecture will draw upon some recent research into these topics, which has been led by the speaker. The research has involved the use of a variety of techniques including fitting children with GPS monitors and accelerometers, and asking them to complete activity and travel diaries, questionnaires, interviews and mapping exercises. From these research instruments it has been possible to show how walking and playing contribute to children’s quantity of physical activity and to examine the factors that influence whether they are allowed out without an adult, where they go, and how intensively they walk. From this it is possible to understand more about how children walk and play and how they use the local environment. The findings from this work should contribute to the design of environments that encourage children to walk and play more, and so lead happier and healthier lives.

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