Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 6524.


Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Open Access CC-BY


The influence of community-built environments on physical activity (PA) support in Early Childhood Education settings (ECEs) is unknown. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine associations between community PA environments and ECE classroom PA practices. We included licensed Oklahoma ECE directors serving 3-to-5-year-old children. Parks and playground locations were exported from Google Earth. NationalWalkability Index was derived from 2010 US Census data. ArcMap 10.6 was used to geocode ECE locations, which were within an Activity Desert if no parks/playgrounds were located within a 1-mile radius or if Walkability Index was 10.5 or below. Classroom PA practices were determined by using the Nutrition and PA Self-Assessment tool (NAP SACC). Barriers to implementing practices were reported. Most Head Starts (n = 41; 80.3%), center-based childcare settings (CBC; n = 135; 87.0%), and family childcare homes (FCCHs; n = 153; 96.4%) were in an Activity Desert. Parks/playgrounds within a 10-mile buffer were correlated with classroom PA practices in FCCHs only (p < 0.001). Activity Desert status was not related to classroom PA practices for any ECE context (p > 0.029). While FCCHs may be the most vulnerable to lack of park and playground access, overall findings suggest ECEs provide a healthful micro-environment protective of the typical influence of community-built environments.