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Keywords:

  • physical activity;
  • physical environment;
  • children;
  • adolescents;
  • healthy places;
  • sports facilities;
  • ecological system theory review

Several countries spend large sums of public money building sports facilities. Still, our knowledge about the effect of these means is limited. The objectives in this review are (1) to identify relevant knowledge of how sports facilities influence young people's physical activity, (2) to clarify the status of examined and non-examined factors and (3) to propose a conceptual model to guide future judgments. Relevant studies were located from searches in computerized databases and the bibliography of reviews. Ecological system theory uses the theoretical framework. The findings encompass 239 independent samples located in 43 studies, primarily from the field of public health. Based on these and the framework, we have developed a modified, conceptual model. The model stresses the interaction between the demographic, personal and interpersonal characteristics of the user, the consideration of access and facility characteristics and the level where this takes place. The most consistent data were found at the mesolevel and were correlated to access and user characteristics. Knowledge gaps were found at the microlevel and with regard to facility characteristics. We also know too little with respect to subgroups' different behavior in various physical settings. Finally, there is a need to confirm/disconfirm less consistent findings.