15 November 2014

Investigating the Relationship Between Walking and the Perception of Walking as a Form of Exercise

Investigating the Relationship Between Walking and the Perception of Walking as a Form of Exercise

The health benefits of walking are well established. This research looks at the relationship between walking and one’s attitude toward walking as a form of physical activity or exercise. The relationship was reviewed through a survey distributed to the researcher’s social network. Responses, N=78, were scored and analyzed for relationships. Results indicate that for a young active population, a positive perception towards walking has little, if any, influence on one’s current walking behavior. Statistically significant results at p=0.05 are that people that believe walking is convenient are more likely to find walking enjoyable. This has a correlation of 0.547. Also, people that enjoy walking are more likely to agree that people should walk for a half hour each day. This has a correlation of 0.460. Those that agree that people should walk daily for 30 minutes are more likely to believe that walking can be implemented as a form of exercise at anytime. This has a correlation of 0.394.

Introduction

Physical inactivity has been identified as a risk factor for obesity, morbidity, and mortality. Health benefits of physical activity are well established. Physical activity contributes to a lower risk of coronary heart disease and several other chronic diseases (Brownson, R. C., Housemann, R. A., Brown, D. R., Jackson-Thompson, J., King, A. C., Malone, B. R., et al, 2000). A majority of studies show that regular physical activity has health benefits at any weight, and for those who want or need to lose weight, physical activity is a critical component of long-term weight management (Blair & Church, 2004). Current research has also identified several factors that influence a person’s walking behavior. Many studies primarily examine the environment and its impact on walking behavior. One study identified that the physical environment is associated with physical activity in the form of walking or cycling for transportation (Saelens, Sallis, & Frank, 2003).

Research argues for increased advocacy and legislation to promote physical activity by way of improving the environment and increasing active transportation (Owen, Humpel, Leslie, Bauman, & Sallis, 2004). The available research has also identified a person’s age as a factor affecting a walking behavior. One such study alludes to a modest increase in the prevalence of walking for leisure time physical activity but concludes that the frequency of walking has remained unchanged over the last 20 years (Simpson, M. E., Serdula, M., Galuska, D. A., Gillespie, C., Donehoo, R., Macera, C., et al. 2003). Some studies promote walking as an effective way to increase activity and advocate a comprehensive strategy to influence individuals and create more supportive social and physical environments (Giles-Corti & Donovan, 2003).

There is an established need for physical activity and walking is an easy and almost universally attainable method for achieving current physical activity recommendations. It is possible that there is a relationship between walking and one's attitude towards walking for exercise or physical activity such that the more a person walks the more positive that person feels towards walking for exercise or physical activity. If such a relationship exists it may be possible to direct physical activity interventions to address this and hopefully increase the prevalence and frequency of walking for both transportation and leisure.

Methods

An online accessible survey was distributed through the researcher’s social network through email and Facebook.com, an online social networking site. The sample population totaled 78 respondents. The survey consisted of ten questions asking each respondent to analyze their walking behavior and attitudes toward walking and physical activity (Table 1 - not shown). The survey results were collected and analyzed by SurveyMonkey.com, an online survey collection tool.

The correlation tool in Microsoft Excel was used to analyze the data and detect any relationships. Each individual’s attitude towards walking was scored on a scale between 4 and 20. This will be referred to as the walking perception score. The ranking for the scores are as follows:

18-20 High positive attitude towards walking

14-17 Moderately high attitude towards walking

11-13 Neutral attitude towards walking

7-10 Moderately low attitude towards walking

4-6 Low attitude towards walking

Results

The characteristics of the survey respondents are shown in Table 2 (not shown). The sample is representative of the researcher’s social network but is not representative of the general population. The sample is overly represented in younger persons and more persons that self report as structured exercisers.

Overall, 59% of respondents reported walking for over thirty minutes daily. Eighty three percent of respondents reported a walking perception score above neutral. Less than one fourth of respondents (23.1%) reported walking for over 60 minutes daily. Most of the respondents reported that their walking behavior is for transportation and leisure equally (35.9%).

Table 4 (not shown) shows a correlation print out of results. There are no statistically significant correlations between sex and other variables, age and other variables, environment and other variables, structured exercise and other variables, walking purpose and other variables, and walking duration and other variables. Statistically significant correlations at p=0.05 are discussed next. Walking convenience is positively correlated with the attitude that walking is enjoyable (0.547). A greater level of enjoyment during walking is positively correlated with the expectation to walk for 30 minutes (0.460). The expectation for someone to walk 30 minutes is positively correlated with the attitude that walking could be implemented as a form of exercise at any time (0.394).

There are a few insignificant correlations at p=0.05 that should be discussed. Expectation for someone to walk for 30 minutes is negatively correlated with respondent environment (-0.332) such that as the environment went from rural to urban less respondents indicated that those who are able should walk for at least 30 minutes daily. Walking duration is positively correlated with structured exercise (0.253) such that structured exercisers reported longer walking times. The expectation for someone to walk for 30 minutes is positively correlated with structured exercisers (0.252) such that structured exercisers indicated people should walk for at least 30 minutes daily. Expectation to walk for 30 minutes is positively correlated with walking duration (0.306) such that those that reported longer bouts of walking indicated that more people should walk for 30 minutes daily.

Discussion

Walking is encouraged by many physical activity experts to help reduce the risk for several chronic illnesses (Brownson et al., 2000). This researcher investigated the relationship between walking and one’s attitude towards walking for exercise or physical activity. A survey was distributed to the researcher’s social network in an effort to determine if such a relationship exists. Each individual’s attitude towards walking was scored and compared with their self reported walking duration (Table 5 - not shown). There is some evidence to show that as people walk more their attitude towards walking becomes more positive. The correlation of 0.253 supports the hypothesis but is statistically insignificant at p=0.05.

Statistically significant results at p=0.05 show that people that believe walking is convenient are more likely to find walking enjoyable. Also, people that enjoy walking are more likely to agree that people should walk for a half hour each day. Those that agree that people should walk daily for 30 minutes are more likely to believe that walking can be implemented as a form of exercise at anytime.

This research is limited by the limited variation in the respondent population. These results are very specific to a young active population and cannot be generalized to other populations.

References

Blair, S. N., & Church, T. S. (2004). The fitness, obesity, and health equation: Is physical activity the common denominator? JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 292(10), 1232-1234.

Brownson, R. C., Housemann, R. A., Brown, D. R., Jackson-Thompson, J., King, A. C., Malone, B. R., et al. (2000). Promoting physical activity in rural communities: Walking trail access, use, and effects. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 18(3), 235-241.

Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R. J. (2003). Relative influences of individual, social environmental and physical environmental correlates of walking. American Public Health Association.

Owen, N., Humpel, N., Leslie, E., Bauman, A., & Sallis, J. F. (2004/7). Understanding environmental influences on walking: Review and research agenda. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27(1), 67-76.

Saelens, B. E., Sallis, J. F., & Frank, L. D. (2003). Environmental correlates of walking and cycling: Findings from the transportation, urban design, and planning literatures. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 25, 80.

Simpson, M. E., Serdula, M., Galuska, D. A., Gillespie, C., Donehoo, R., Macera, C., et al. (2003/8). Walking trends among U.S. adults: The behavioral risk factor surveillance system, 1987–2000. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(2), 95-100.

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