An exploration of walking behaviour-An interpretative phenomenological approach

Catherine D. Darker*, Michael Larkin, David P. French

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to provide a rich and detailed account of participants' experiences of walking using the qualitative method of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants were a snowball sample of 10 members of the UK general public, aged 25-35 years, with equal numbers of males and females. Participants reported walking as not being "proper" exercise, and that it is not a goal in itself. Factors that participants cited as making walking easier included the functionality of walking for transport, contextual factors of social support and psychological benefits. Perceived lack of time was cited as an inhibitory barrier to walking. Participants' perceptions of walking were incongruent with current health promotion campaigns. There is a need to address the misconception that walking is not proper exercise. The traditional focus of walking promotion campaigns concerns beliefs about the benefits of walking on health. People engage in healthy behaviour for reasons other than to be healthy. Interventions to promote walking should consider targeting the psychological meaning and value of walking, in addition to beliefs about health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2172-2183
Number of pages12
JournalSocial science and medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


  • Exercise
  • Public health
  • UK
  • Walking


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