Low-Income, Urban Children’s Perspectives on Physical Activity: A Photovoice Project

Key takeaway:

  • In this study, interactions with parents and peers and availability of sedentary media activities, after-school programs, and community centers influenced frequency and intensity of physical activity.


  • Most sedentary activity was media-related, including watching TV and movies, playing video games, and using the computer.
  • After-school programs provided access to both sedentary and vigorous activity.
  • Parents were involved in more sedentary or low-intensity activity like board games and walking, and children engaged in more vigorous activity with siblings, cousins, and friends.
  • Children tended to be more physical active outdoors than indoors, but outdoor activity was limited by the weather.
  • Researchers suggested more green space in urban areas, involvement of church-based organizations, and support for after-school programs as ways to encourage more physical activity.


  • This study used Photovoice methodology, in which participants took pictures representing their physical activity habits and perceptions of the physical activity environment and discussed the photos in follow-up interviews. Researchers identified themes of types of activity, social environment, and physical environment where activity took place. Participants were 24 ethnically diverse (African American, Caucasian, Native American, and Asian) children ages 9 to 13 from low-income households in a Midwestern city.

Heidelberger, L, and Smith, C. (2016). Low-Income, Urban Children’s Perspectives on Physical Activity: A Photovoice Project. Maternal and Child Health Journal 20, 1124-1132.

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