Walking for Transport Versus Recreation: A Comparison of Participants, Timing, and Locations

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Walking is the most common physical activity for adults with important implications for urban planning and public health. Recreational walking has received considerably more attention than walking for transport, and differences between them remain poorly understood.

Methods:

Using time-use data collected from 1971 randomly-chosen adults in Halifax, Canada, we identified walking for transport and walking for recreation events, and then computed participation rates, occurrences, mean event durations, and total daily durations in order to examine the participants and timing, while the locations were examined using origin-destination matrices. We compared differences using McNemar’s test for participation rates, Wilcoxon test for occurrences and durations, and Chi-Square test for locations.

Results:

Results illustrate many significant differences between the 2 types of walking, related to participants, timing, and locations. For example, results indicate a daily average of 3.1 walking for transport events, each lasting 8 minutes on average, compared with 1.4 recreational walking events lasting 39 minutes on average. Results also indicate more than two-thirds of recreational walks are home-based, compared with less than one-fifth of transport walks.

Conclusions:

This research highlights the importance of both types of walking, while also casting suspicion on the traditional home-based paradigm used to measure “walkability.”

Spinney is with the Geography Dept, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Millward is with the Geography Dept, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Scott is with the School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.