From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Studying Physical Activity in Children’s Environments across Scotland

SPACES (Studying Physical Activity in Children’s Environments across Scotland) is a project that has been developed to investigate the relationship between the environment (natural, built, and social) and children’s physical activity levels and behaviour across Scotland. Using exciting new technologies, SPACES will gather physical activity information from activity monitors and combine this with contextual information from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices. The resulting data will allow us to answer important questions such as:

  • "Do Scottish children use greenspace, and how active are they if they do?"
  • How does greenspace use differ for those living in urban and rural areas of Scotland?
  • Is the relationship between physical activity and greenspace different for those living in deprived or affluent areas?

The project has completed a successful piloting phase (2013/2014) where children in rural and urban areas of south-west Scotland were given accelerometers and GPS devices to wear for 7 days and asked to provide feedback on the data collection methods. This information proved invaluable and changes have been made for a large data collection involving children across the entire country. In collaboration with Growing Up in Scotland (GUS), approximately 2,800 children will be asked to wear an activity monitor (Actigraph GT3X+) and GPS device (Qstarz BT1000XT) for 8 consecutive days starting in early 2015. Data collection is expected to be completed in late 2015 with preliminary results following in 2016.

For further information, please visit the SPACES website, or contact Dr Paul McCrorie at



McBrearty D, McCrorie P, Granat M, Duncan E, Stansfield B. Objective assessment of intensity categorization of the previous day physical activity recall questionnaire in 11–13 year old children. Physiological Measurement 2014;35:2329

Mccrorie PRW, Fenton C, Ellaway A. Combining GPS, GIS, and accelerometry to explore the physical activity and environment relationship in children and young people: a review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014;11:93

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