Walking behaviours among adolescent girls in Scotland: a pilot study

Kirby, J. and Inchley, J. (2013) Walking behaviours among adolescent girls in Scotland: a pilot study. Health Education, 113(1), pp. 28-51. (doi: 10.1108/09654281311293628)

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Purpose The wide ranging physical and mental health benefits of physical activity during adolescence are well established and walking has been identified as one of only two forms of physical activity not to show a significant decrease in participation levels across the primary/secondary years. The aim of this paper is to explore the broader context in which adolescent girls walk and to investigate their walking behaviours, experiences and attitudes. Design/methodology/approach Focus groups discussions and a mapping exercise were carried out with 27 adolescent girls from one urban and one rural school in Scotland. Findings Key themes identified focussed on current walking behaviours (e.g. type/purpose), physical environmental (e.g. safety, aesthetics), social environmental (e.g. family/friends) and individual (e.g. motivations, beliefs) factors. Walking was a popular activity among urban and rural girls, although areas in which walking took place, and reasons for walking could differ between geographical locations. Social influences were dominant, regardless of location, and often took precedence over other influencing factors. Walking was acknowledged as being good for health, but rarely a primary reason for choosing to walk. In general, walking was a consequence of meeting up with others, or an opportunity to be with friends. Research limitations/implications Findings are limited to Scottish girls aged 11‐14 years in one urban and rural location. Further research involving greater numbers of participants are required to broaden understanding. Practical implications Social aspects associated with walking are a key influence. Walking behaviours may take different forms depending on geographical location. Public health interventions need to adapt to match the variety of opportunities for walking. Originality/value These pilot study findings have the potential to inform further research as well as context‐specific interventions aimed at increasing and maintaining walking among adolescent girls.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Inchley, Dr Joanna
Authors: Kirby, J., and Inchley, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Health Education
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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