National Study of Playgrounds

10 Major US Cities

The study would be the first observational study of playgrounds to compare the impacts
of innovative and traditional playground designs on physical activity across gender, age group and socio-economic status. Our data will provide the most current picture of playgrounds and their influence on physical activity in the United States, identifying specifically what playground elements promote MVPA and how these elements may have a large future impact on population health. 

We will quantify the duration of use of innovative and traditional playground structures, and will also estimate the weekly use of a national sample of playgrounds containing 30 innovative playgrounds, renovated or built primarily after 2007 (in the past 10 years), comprised of innovative play designs, and a comparison group of 30 playgrounds with more standard post/platform structures, also renovated or built within the same time frame.

We will initially refine our methods in the Los Angeles playgrounds and then visit 3 innovative and 3 comparison playgrounds in each of 9 additional metro areas: Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, Boston, New York City and Washington DC. 


This project is a partnership with Dr. Deborah Cohen of the RAND Corporation and Dr. Thomas McKenzie, professor emeritus of San Diego State University.

This project is funded by the National Institute of Health.


This project will begin in fall 2019 and finish in fall of 2022.