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Measurement of Walking


ISBN: 978-1-78714-628-0, eISBN: 978-1-78714-627-3

Publication date: 16 June 2017


The mid-1990s marked a paradigm shift in the way physical activity is promoted, and walking is now considered the most suitable type of physical activity for widespread promotion. Accurate measurement underpins public health practice, hence the aims of this chapter are to: (1) provide a typology for the measurement of walking; (2) review methods to assess walking; (3) present challenges in defining walking measures; (4) identify issues in selecting instruments for the evaluation of walking and (5) discuss current efforts to overcome measurement challenges and methodological limitations. The taxonomy of walking indicates that secondary purpose walking is a more complex set of behaviours than primary purpose walks. It has many purposes and no specific domain or intensity, may lack regularity, and therefore poses greater measurement challenges. Objective measurement methods, such as accelerometers, pedometers, smartphones and other electronic devices, have shown good approximation for walking energy expenditure, but are indirect methods of walking assessment. Global Positioning System technology, the ‘Smartmat’ and radio-frequency identification tags are potential objective methods that can distinguish walkers, but also require complex analysis, are costly, and still need their measurement properties corroborated. Subjective direct methods, such as questionnaires, diaries and direct observation, provide the richest information on walking, especially short-term diaries, such as trip records and time use records, and are particularly useful for assessing secondary purpose walking. A unifying measure for health research, surveillance and health promotion would strongly advance the understanding of the impact of walking on health.



Merom, D. and Korycinski, R. (2017), "Measurement of Walking", Walking (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 9), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 11-39.



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