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Developing Sustainable Walking Interventions: Integrating Behavioural, Ecological and Systems Science to Promote Population Health


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

ISSN: 2044-9941

Publication date: 16 June 2017


The purpose of this chapter is to review how well walking interventions have increased and sustained walking, and to provide suggestions for improving future walking interventions. A scoping review was conducted of walking interventions for adults that emphasised walking as a primary intervention strategy and/or included a walking outcome measure. Interventions conducted at the individual, community, and policy levels between 1990 and 2015 were included, with greater emphasis on recent interventions. Walking tends to increase early in interventions and then gradually declines. Results suggest that increased walking, and environmental-change activities to support walking are more likely to be sustained when they are immediately followed by greater economic benefits/time-savings, social approval, and/or physical/emotional well-being. Adaptive interventions that adjust intervention procedures to match dynamically changing environmental circumstances also hold promise for sustaining increased walking. Interventions that incorporate automated technology, durable built environment changes, and civic engagement, may increase cost-efficiency. Variations in outcome measures, study duration, seasons, participant characteristics, and possible measurement reactivity preclude causal inferences about the differential effectiveness of specific intervention procedures for increasing and sustaining walking. This review synthesises the effects of diverse walking interventions on increasing and sustaining walking over a 25-year period. Suggestions are provided to guide future development of more effective, sustainable walking interventions at the population level.




This research was supported, in part, by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, through grant K99/R00 HL088017 (PI: L. Rovniak), and by the U.S. Public Health Service Grants 1R01DK102016 and 5R01HL116448 (PI: A. King), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant #73344 (PI: A. King), U.S. Public Health Service Grant 1U54EB020405 supporting The National Center for Mobility Data Integration and Insight (PI: S. Delp), and the Nutrilite Health Institute Wellness Fund provided by Amway to the Stanford Prevention Research Center. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, or the other funding agencies.


Rovniak, L.S. and King, A.C. (2017), "Developing Sustainable Walking Interventions: Integrating Behavioural, Ecological and Systems Science to Promote Population Health", Walking (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 9), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 249-273.



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