Walking and Walkability: Is Wayfinding a Missing Link? Implications for Public Health Practice

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Research on walking and walkability has yet to focus on wayfinding, the interactive, problem-solving process by which people use environmental information to locate themselves and navigate through various settings.

Methods:

We reviewed the literature on outdoor pedestrian-oriented wayfinding to examine its relationship to walking and walkability, 2 areas of importance to physical activity promotion.

Results:

Our findings document that wayfinding is cognitively demanding and can compete with other functions, including walking itself. Moreover, features of the environment can either facilitate or impede wayfinding, just as environmental features can influence walking.

Conclusions:

Although there is still much to be learned about wayfinding and walking behaviors, our review helps frame the issues and lays out the importance of this area of research and practice.

Vandenberg (avanden@emory.edu) is with the Dept of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. Hunter is with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anderson was with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Bryant is with the Dept of Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO. Hooker is with the Exercise Science and Health Promotion Program, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ. Satariano is with the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA.