An evaluation of outdoor school environments to promote physical activity in Delhi, India

Samiksha Tarun, Monika Arora, Tina Rawal, Sara E. Benjamin Neelon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing physical activity in children is an important public health goal in India. Schools may be a target for physical activity promotion, but little is known about outdoor school environments. The purpose of this study was to describe characteristics of the surrounding outdoor school environments that may promote children’s physical activity in Delhi, India. Methods: For this cross-sectional study, we conducted a structured observation of outdoor school environments in a random sample of 16 private schools in Delhi, India using the Sport, Physical activity and Eating behavior: Environmental Determinants in Young people (SPEEDY) audit tool. The SPEEDY school audit measured six categories, including (1) access to the school; (2) surrounding area; (3) school grounds; (4) aesthetics; (5) usage; and (6) overall environment. Six trained data collectors conducted the audit independently in the summer of 2012 while schools were in session. Results: Of the 16 schools, one had cycle lanes separated from the road while two schools had cycle lanes on the road. Two schools had pavement on both sides of the road for pedestrians. One school had marked pedestrian crossings. No schools had school warning signs, road safety signs, or route signs for cyclists that would help calm vehicular traffic. Fifteen schools had playground equipment and nine had courts, an assault course (a sequence of equipment designed to be used together), and a quadrangle (an enclosed or semi-enclosed courtyard) for outdoor physical activity. The majority of schools were shielded from the surrounding area by hedges, trees, or fences (n = 13) and were well maintained (n = 10). One school had evidence of vandalism. Two schools had graffiti, seven had litter, and 15 had murals or art. Conclusions: The majority of schools did not have infrastructure to support physical activity, such as cycle lanes, marked pedestrian crossings, or traffic calming mechanisms such as school warning signs. However, most had playground equipment, courts, and outdoor play areas. Nearly all were free from vandalism and many had murals or art. These results provide preliminary data for future work examining outdoor school environments, active transport to school, and children’s physical activity in India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2017


  • Built environment
  • India
  • Physical activity
  • School

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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