Presentation at the 2008 Active Living Research Annual Conference
To develop more effective physical activity (PA) programs, we must better understand who is active, where they are active, and for what purpose they are active.
To assess 1) pedestrian activity levels among adults, 2) where and why adults engage in pedestrian activity, and 3) what factors adults consider when deciding where to engage in pedestrian activity.
A cross-sectional random digit-dial telephone survey was conducted June 2001 - June 2002 to assess pedestrian activity in California adults (N = 12,036). Participants were asked what type of pedestrian activities they engage in during a typical week, how many days and how much time per week they engage in pedestrian activities, where and why they engage in pedestrian activities, and factors they consider when deciding where to engage in pedestrian activities (e.g., existence of sidewalks, speed of traffic).
Regression models were used to assess predictors of 1) meeting moderate and vigorous intensity PA recommendations, 2) walking and running/jogging in a typical week, and 3) purpose for, location of, and factors considered when engaging in pedestrian activity. Odds ratios assessed differences by age, sex, and race.
Results: Who: 73% of participants reported walking and 75% reported running/jogging in a typical week. Only 36% reported meeting the moderate intensity PA recommendation (walking at least 150 min/wk), and 18% reported meeting the vigorous intensity PA recommendation (running/jogging at least 60 min/wk). Males, nonwhites, and participants 18-64 yrs were more likely than females, whites, and participants 65+ yrs to run/jog in a typical week and meet the vigorous intensity PA recommendation. Whites were more likely than nonwhites to walk in a typical week.
Why: Reasons for engaging in pedestrian activity were for planned exercise (74%), running errands (62%), walking at work (32%), walking to work (18%), walking to public transportation (19%), and walking while escorting children to school (19%). Males were more likely to engage in pedestrian activity for work, with females more likely to engage in pedestrian activity while escorting children to school and running errands. Nonwhites were more likely to engage in pedestrian activity on the way to work and escorting children to school, and participants 18-64 yrs were more likely than those 65+ yrs to engage in pedestrian activity for work, on the way to work, on the way to public transportation, and while escorting children to school.
Where: Participants mostly engaged in pedestrian activity on streets and sidewalks in their neighborhood (88%), streets and sidewalks not in their neighborhood (45%), walking trails or paths (44%), at their workplace (36%), and at the park (36%). Males and nonwhites were more likely to engage in pedestrian activity at the park, while females and whites were more likely to engage in pedestrian activity on streets and sidewalks in their neighborhoods. Participants 18-64 yrs were more likely than participants 65+ yrs to engage in pedestrian activity at the park or at work, and participants 18-44 yrs were more likely than those 65+ yrs to engage in pedestrian activity on trails or paths, and in streets and sidewalks in and outside of neighborhoods.
Factors: Participants were most likely to consider the presence of signals that make drivers stop (69%), speed of traffic (68%), and amount of traffic (65%) when deciding where to engage in pedestrian activity. Those not meeting the moderate intensity PA recommendation were more likely to consider the presence of signs that make drivers slow down and push buttons at crosswalks than those who meet this recommendation. Those not meeting the vigorous intensity PA recommendation were more likely than those who meet this recommendation to consider the existence of sidewalks when deciding where to engage in pedestrian activity.
This study identified significant differences by race, sex, age, and PA level in the type, location, and purpose of pedestrian activities. The results support the need for additional research to assess older adults’ PA patterns, preferences, barriers, and facilitators in order to effectively tailor PA promotion efforts to this at-risk group. The findings also revealed that the design and programming of parks may need to be reconsidered to increase their use among adults, especially women. The results indicating that males and females engage in pedestrian activity while carrying out their “traditional roles”, whites primarily engage in leisure-time PA, and nonwhites are more likely to engage in PA for transportation, should be considered by public health agencies and their partners as they continue to increase and promote opportunities for pedestrian activity, with efforts tailored to adults in various community settings.
California Public Health Institute, California Department of Transportation, and California Department of Health Services