Residential environments may significantly influence youth physical activity (PA). However, few studies have examined detailed street quality attributes via observational audits in relation to context-specific PA among youth.
The objective of this study was to explore whether the overall quality of street environments, as well as specific attributes, was associated with neighbourhood-based and street-based PA within a national sample of youth in the Healthy Communities Study.
Data were collected from 4616 youth from 130 communities across the USA. Youth PA in the neighbourhood and on the participant's street was captured using 7-d recall interviews. Windshield survey observational audits documented five street quality variables: burned, boarded up or abandoned residential units, litter, overall condition of residences, street type and presence of sidewalks in good condition.
Youth with no litter on their street reported significantly lower neighbourhood-based PA and youth living on a side street, cul-de-sac, dead-end or one-way street reported greater neighbourhood-based PA. No significant associations were detected for the overall street quality index or with street-based PA.
Specific street quality attributes may be associated with youth PA. Further research and collaboration between diverse disciplines and agencies should focus on understanding and improving street quality to promote youth PA and health.