This study explores the strategies that experienced walkers felt were most useful for sustaining outdoor walking routines. To investigate this issue, a survey-based instrument was used in combination with a Conceptual Content Cognitive Mapping (3CM) exercise.
Seventy-one experienced walkers were asked to complete the 3CM exercise to explore the strategies that have helped them regularly walk outdoors. After 1 week these same individuals received a survey investigating these same issues as well as demographics and physical activity participation.
There was general agreement between 3CM and survey data with respect to the strategies used by experienced walkers. The most highly endorsed strategies involved using health goals and supportive walking environments. Survey results also revealed that those more likely to endorse the use of social support took fewer walks per week, but engaged in more nonwalking related physical activity.
Overall, the findings suggest that experienced walkers use a variety of strategies. Strategies such as focusing of the positive health outcomes, using attractive natural settings, and developing realistic action plans appeared to be the most useful. These results also indicate the 3CM technique may be an effective way to explore beliefs and motivations regarding physical activity.
The authors are with the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.