Individual, employment and psychosocial factors influencing walking to work: Implications for intervention design.
ABSTRACT: Promoting walking for the journey to and from work (commuter walking) is a potential strategy for increasing physical activity. Understanding the factors influencing commuter walking is important for identifying target groups and designing effective interventions. This study aimed to examine individual, employment-related and psychosocial factors associated with commuter walking and to discuss the implications for targeting and future design of interventions.1,544 employees completed a baseline survey as part of the 'Walking Works' intervention project (33.4% male; 36.3% aged <30 years). Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the associations of individual (age, ethnic group, educational qualifications, number of children <16 and car ownership), employment-related (distance lived from work, free car parking at work, working hours, working pattern and occupation) and psychosocial factors (perceived behavioural control, intention, social norms and social support from work colleagues) with commuter walking.Almost half of respondents (n = 587, 49%) were classified as commuter walkers. Those who were aged <30 years, did not have a car, had no free car parking at work, were confident of including some walking or intended to walk to or from work on a regular basis, and had support from colleagues for walking were more likely to be commuter walkers. Those who perceived they lived too far away from work to walk, thought walking was less convenient than using a car for commuting, did not have time to walk, needed a car for work or had always travelled the same way were less likely to be commuter walkers.A number of individual, employment-related and psychosocial factors were associated with commuter walking. Target groups for interventions to promote walking to and from work may include those in older age groups and those who own or have access to a car. Multi-level interventions targeting individual level behaviour change, social support within the workplace and organisational level travel policies may be required in order to promote commuter walking.
Project description:Encouraging walking during the daily commute is a potential strategy for increasing physical activity levels. This study aimed: (i) to examine, and compare by travel mode, the objectively measured physical activity of a working adult population, and, (ii) to identify associations between mode of travel to work and a range of individual, interpersonal, organisational and environmental characteristics.Employees (n=654) recruited from 87 workplaces in geographically distinct areas provided data through accelerometers, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, travel diaries and questionnaires. Separate multivariable logistic regression models were developed to examine factors associated with physical activity during the commute and mode of travel to work.In comparison to car users (7.3?minutes±Standard Deviation 7.6), walkers (34.3±18.6) and public transport users (25.7±14.0) accrued substantially higher levels of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity during the commute. Combined accelerometer and GPS data showed that participants who walked at least ten minutes during their commute were more likely to have a shorter commute distance (p<0.001), occupy a sedentary job (p<0.01), and be classified as 'underweight or normal weight' (p<0.03). No car access (p<0.001), and absence of free work car parking (p<0.01) were independently related to walking to work and using public transport. Shorter commuting distances were also related to walking to work (p<0.001). Public transport users were more likely to be younger (p=0.04), have more positive environmental perceptions (p=0.01), and less likely to combine their commute with caring responsibilities (p=0.03).This study shows that walking to work and using public transport are important contributors to physical activity levels in a working population. Planning, transport and behavioural interventions to promote walking during the commute should take into account the wider determinants. Reducing availability of free work car parking is one possible strategy to discourage car use.
Project description:There is good evidence that when people's needs and expectations regarding behaviour change are met, they are satisfied with that change, and maintain those changes. Despite this, there is a dearth of research on needs and expectations of walkers when initially attending walking groups and whether and how these needs and expectations have been satisfied after a period of attendance. Equally, there is an absence of research on how people who lead these groups understand walkers' needs and walk leaders' actions to address them. The present study was aimed at addressing both of these gaps in the research.Two preliminary thematic analyses were conducted on face-to-face interviews with (a) eight walkers when they joined walking groups, five of whom were interviewed three months later, and (b) eight walk leaders. A multi-perspective analysis building upon these preliminary analyses identified similarities and differences within the themes that emerged from the interviews with walkers and walk leaders.Walkers indicated that their main needs and expectations when joining walking groups were achieving long-term social and health benefits. At the follow up interviews, walkers indicated that satisfaction with meeting similar others within the groups was the main reason for continued attendance. Their main source of dissatisfaction was not feeling integrated in the existing walking groups. Walk leaders often acknowledged the same reasons for walkers joining and maintaining attendance at walking. However, they tended to attribute dissatisfaction and drop out to uncontrollable environmental factors and/or walkers' personalities. Walk leaders reported a lack of efficacy to effectively address walkers' needs.Interventions to increase retention of walkers should train walk leaders with the skills to help them modify the underlying psychological factors affecting walkers' maintenance at walking groups. This should result in greater retention of walkers in walking groups, thereby allowing walkers to receive the long-term social and health benefits of participation in these groups.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To assess the predictors of uptake and maintenance of walking and cycling, and of switching to the car as the usual mode of travel, for commuting. METHODS:655 commuters in Cambridge, UK reported all commuting trips using a seven-day recall instrument in 2009 and 2010. Individual and household characteristics, psychological measures relating to car use and environmental conditions on the route to work were self-reported in 2009. Objective environmental characteristics were assessed using Geographical Information Systems. Associations between uptake and maintenance of commuting behaviours and potential predictors were modelled using multivariable logistic regression. RESULTS:Mean within-participant changes in commuting were relatively small (walking: +3.0 min/week, s.d.=66.7; cycling: -5.3 min/week, s.d.=74.7). Self-reported and objectively-assessed convenience of public transport predicted uptake of walking and cycling respectively, while convenient cycle routes predicted uptake of cycling and a pleasant route predicted maintenance of walking. A lack of free workplace parking predicted uptake of walking and alternatives to the car. Less favourable attitudes towards car use predicted continued use of alternatives to the car. CONCLUSIONS:Improving the convenience of walking, cycling and public transport and limiting the availability of workplace car parking may promote uptake and maintenance of active commuting.
Project description:BACKGROUND:High levels of physical inactivity are linked to several chronic diseases including coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers and poor mental health. Encouraging people to be more active has proven difficult. One way to incorporate physical activity into the daily routine is through the journey to and from work. Although behaviour change techniques (BCTs) are considered valuable in promoting behaviour change, there is very little in the published literature about the views and experiences of those encouraged to use them. METHODS:The Walk to Work study was a feasibility study incorporating an exploratory cluster randomised controlled trial. The 10-week intervention involved training workplace-based Walk to Work promoters (volunteers or nominated by participating employers) to encourage colleagues to increase walking during their daily commute. The intervention used nine specific BCTs: Intention formation, barrier identification, specific goal setting, instruction, general encouragement, self-monitoring of behaviour social support, review of behavioural goals and relapse prevention. Digitally recorded interviews were undertaken with 22 employees, eight of whom were Walk to Work promoters to understand their views and experiences of using these techniques. The Framework method of data management and constant comparison were used to analyse the data and identify key themes. RESULTS:For each individual BCT, there appeared to be people who found it useful in helping them to increase walking to work and others who did not. Following training, the Walk to Work promoters varied in the extent to which they were able to fulfil their role: additional support and encouragement during the 10-week intervention may be required for the promoters to maintain motivation. Wider contextual (economic climate, unprecedented wet weather) and organisational (workload, car parking facilities) issues were identified that influenced the delivery of, and response to, the intervention. CONCLUSIONS:Walk to work interventions employing BCTs should include sufficient techniques to enable participants to choose a 'package' to suit their needs. Additional support at organisational level should also be encouraged, and consideration given to wider contextual factors that impinge on the delivery of, and response to, the intervention. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ISRCTN72882329.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The use of private motor vehicles places a considerable burden on public health. Changes in workplace car parking policies may be effective in shifting behaviour. We use a natural experimental design to assess whether changes in policy were associated with differences in commute mode. METHODS:We used cohort data from participants working in Cambridge (2009-2012). Commuters reported their trips and travel modes to work over the last week, workplace car parking policy and socioeconomic, environmental and health characteristics. Changes in policy were defined between phases (1608 transition periods; 884 participants). Using generalised estimating equations, we estimated associations between changes in parking policy and the proportion of trips that (i) were exclusively by motor vehicle, (ii) involved walking or cycling and (iii) involved public transport at follow-up. RESULTS:25.1% of trips were made by motor vehicle, 54.6% involved walking or cycling and 11.7% involved public transport. The introduction of free or paid workplace parking was associated with higher proportions of motor vehicle trips (11.4%, 95% CI (6.4 to 16.3)) and lower proportions involving walking or cycling (-13.3%, 95% CI (-20.2 to -6.4)) and public transport (-5.8%, 95% CI (-10.6 to -0.9)) compared with those with no workplace parking. Restrictive changes in policy were associated with shifts in the expected direction but these were not statistically significant. CONCLUSION:Relaxation of parking policy was associated with higher proportions of trips made by motor vehicle. Further longitudinal and intervention research is required to assess generalisability of these findings.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The role of workplaces in promoting active travel (walking, cycling or using public transport) is relatively unexplored. This study explores the potential for workplaces to reduce employees' driving to work in order to inform the development of workplace interventions for promoting active travel. METHODS: An analysis of a cross-sectional survey was conducted using data from parents/guardians whose children participated in the Central Sydney Walk to School Program in inner-west Sydney, Australia. A total of 888 parents/guardians who were employed and worked outside home were included in this analysis. The role of the workplace in regards to active travel was assessed by asking the respondents' level of agreement to eight statements including workplace encouragement of active travel, flexible working hours, public transport availability, convenient parking, shower and change rooms for employees and whether they lived or worked in a safe place. Self-reported main mode of journey to work and demographic data were collected through a self-administrated survey. Binary logistic regression modelling was used to ascertain independent predictors of driving to work. RESULTS: Sixty nine per cent of respondents travelled to work by car, and 19% agreed with the statement, "My workplace encourages its employees to go to and from work by public transport, cycling and/or walking (active travel)." The survey respondents with a workplace encouraging active travel to work were significantly less likely to drive to work (49%) than those without this encouragement (73%) with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 0.41 (95% CI 0.23-0.73, P = 0.002). Having convenient public transport close to the workplace or home was also an important factor that could discourage employees from driving to work with AOR 0.17 (95% CI 0.09-0.31, P < 0.0001) and AOR 0.50 (95% CI 0.28-0.90, P = 0.02) respectively. In contrast, convenient parking near the workplace significantly increased the likelihood of respondents driving to work (AOR 4.6, 95% CI 2.8-7.4, P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: There is a significant inverse association between the perception of workplace encouragement for active travel and driving to work. Increases in the number of workplaces that encourage their employees to commute to work via active travel could potentially lead to fewer employees driving to work. In order to make active travel more appealing than driving to work, workplace interventions should consider developing supportive workplace policies and environments.
Project description:Car use is associated with substantial health and environmental costs but research in deprived populations indicates that car access may also promote psychosocial well-being within car-oriented environments. This mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) study examined this issue in a more affluent setting, investigating the socio-economic structure of car commuting in Cambridge, UK. Our analyses involved integrating self-reported questionnaire data from 1142 participants in the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study (collected in 2009) and in-depth interviews with 50 participants (collected 2009-2010). Even in Britain's leading 'cycling city', cars were a key resource in bridging the gap between individuals' desires and their circumstances. This applied both to long-term life goals such as home ownership and to shorter-term challenges such as illness. Yet car commuting was also subject to constraints, with rush hour traffic pushing drivers to start work earlier and with restrictions on, or charges for, workplace parking pushing drivers towards multimodal journeys (e.g. driving to a 'park-and-ride' site then walking). These patterns of car commuting were socio-economically structured in several ways. First, the gradient of housing costs made living near Cambridge more expensive, affecting who could 'afford' to cycle and perhaps making cycling the more salient local marker of Bourdieu's class distinction. Nevertheless, cars were generally affordable in this relatively affluent, highly-educated population, reducing the barrier which distance posed to labour-force participation. Finally, having the option of starting work early required flexible hours, a form of job control which in Britain is more common among higher occupational classes. Following a social model of disability, we conclude that socio-economic advantage can make car-oriented environments less disabling via both greater affluence and greater job control, and in ways manifested across the full socio-economic range. This suggests the importance of combining individual-level 'healthy travel' interventions with measures aimed at creating travel environments in which all social groups can pursue healthy and satisfying lives.
Project description:A century of research on the development of walking has examined periodic gait over a straight, uniform path. The current study provides the first corpus of natural infant locomotion derived from spontaneous activity during free play. Locomotor experience was immense: Twelve- to 19-month-olds averaged 2,368 steps and 17 falls per hour. Novice walkers traveled farther faster than expert crawlers, but had comparable fall rates, which suggests that increased efficiency without increased cost motivates expert crawlers to transition to walking. After walking onset, natural locomotion improved dramatically: Infants took more steps, traveled farther distances, and fell less. Walking was distributed in short bouts with variable paths--frequently too short or irregular to qualify as periodic gait. Nonetheless, measures of periodic gait and of natural locomotion were correlated, which indicates that better walkers spontaneously walk more and fall less. Immense amounts of time-distributed, variable practice constitute the natural practice regimen for learning to walk.
Project description:Environmental perceptions and psychological measures appear to be associated with walking and cycling behaviour; however, their influence is still unclear. We assessed these associations using baseline data from a quasi-experimental cohort study of the effects of major transport infrastructural developments in Cambridge, UK.Postal surveys were sent to adults who travel to work in Cambridge (n = 1582). Questions asked about travel modes and time spent travelling to and from work in the last week, perceptions of the route, psychological measures regarding car use and socio-demographic characteristics. Participants were classified into one of two categories according to time spent walking for commuting ('no walking' or 'some walking') and one of three categories for cycling ('no cycling', '1-149 min/wk' and ' ? 150 min/wk').Of the 1164 respondents (68% female, mean (SD) age: 42.3 (11.4) years) 30% reported any walking and 53% reported any cycling to or from work. In multiple regression models, short distance to work and not having access to a car showed strong positive associations with both walking and cycling. Furthermore, those who reported that it was pleasant to walk were more likely to walk to or from work (OR = 4.18, 95% CI 3.02 to 5.78) and those who reported that it was convenient to cycle on the route between home and work were more likely to do so (1-149 min/wk: OR = 4.60, 95% CI 2.88 to 7.34; ? 150 min/wk: OR = 3.14, 95% CI 2.11 to 4.66). Positive attitudes in favour of car use were positively associated with time spent walking to or from work but negatively associated with cycling to or from work. Strong perceived behavioural control for car use was negatively associated with walking.In this relatively affluent sample of commuters, a range of individual and household characteristics, perceptions of the route environment and psychological measures relating to car use were associated with walking or cycling to and from work. Taken together, these findings suggest that social and physical contexts of travel decision-making should be considered and that a range of influences may require to be addressed to bring about behaviour change.
Project description:Using a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel group design, this investigation determined if the combination of two weeks of flavonoid supplementation (329 mg/day, quercetin, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols mixture) and a 45-minute walking bout (62.2 ± 0.9% VO2max (maximal oxygen consumption rate)) enhanced the translocation of gut-derived phenolics into circulation in a group of walkers (n = 77). The walkers (flavonoid, placebo groups) were randomized to either sit or walk briskly on treadmills for 45 min (thus, four groups: placebo?sit, placebo?walk, flavonoid?sit, flavonoid?walk). A comparator group of runners (n = 19) ingested a double flavonoid dose for two weeks (658 mg/day) and ran for 2.5 h (69.2 ± 1.2% VO2max). Four blood samples were collected (pre- and post-supplementation, immediately post- and 24 h post-exercise/rest). Of the 76 metabolites detected in this targeted analysis, 15 increased after the 2.5 h run, and when grouped were also elevated post-exercise (versus placebo?sit) for the placebo? and flavonoid?walking groups (p < 0.05). A secondary analysis showed that pre-study plasma concentrations of gut-derived phenolics in the runners were 40% higher compared to walkers (p = 0.031). These data indicate that acute exercise bouts (brisk walking, intensive running) are linked to an increased translocation of gut-derived phenolics into circulation, an effect that is amplified when combined with a two-week period of increased flavonoid intake or chronic training as a runner.