2017 - Research

Walking for Transportation or Leisure Among US Women and Men – National Health Survey Interview, 2005 – 2015

This study shows that among women, the prevalence of self-reported walking significantly increased from 2005 to 2015; meanwhile, among men, the overall prevalence increased but stalled between 2010 and 2015. 

Key Takeaway:

  • Only half of adults in the United States report achieving recommended levels of physical activity. Walking is an easy way for people to increase their physical activity. While self-reported walking among adults increased by six percentage points from 2005 to 2010, it is unknown whether this trend has been sustained. This study shows that among women, the prevalence of self-reported walking significantly increased from 2005 to 2015; meanwhile, among men, the overall prevalence increased but stalled between 2010 and 2015. This study also finds disparities in walking based on race, socioeconomic status, and education level.

Results:

  • The prevalence of self-reported walking for transportation or leisure among US men and women:
    • From 2005 to 2015, women’s self-reported walking increased from 57.4% to 65.1%.
    • From 2005 to 2015, men’s self-reported walking increased from 54.3% to 62.8%.
    • While earlier studies show that women are less likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity, this study found that walking has become increasingly common among women since 2005.
    • For both men and women, walking was least prevalent among non-Hispanic black people and people with lower education levels (high school or less).
    • Among men, walking prevalence steadily increased among college graduates but stalled between 2010 and 2015 among those who did not graduate from high school.
    • Compared to more affluent and majority white neighborhoods, low socioeconomic status and minority neighborhoods are perceived as less attractive and safe because of traffic or crime.

Implications:

  • To promote walking, the built environment can be designed such that walking feels safe, easy, and convenient for all people.
  • Targeted approaches to overcome walking barriers for specific populations (i.e., people of low socioeconomic statuses, people with low education levels, and people of color) can help diminish disparities in walking. Examples include walking programs tailored to the needs and wants of specific populations, as well as policies and practices that improve the safety and quality of the built environment.

Methods:

  • The researchers analyzed National Health Interview Survey data from 2005 (26,551 respondents), 2010 (23,313 respondents), and 2015 (28,877 respondents) to evaluate trends in the age-adjusted prevalence of self-reported walking among adults over 18 years old.

Ussery, E.N.; Carlson, S.A.; Whitfield, G.P.; Watson, K.B.; Berrigan, D.; Fulton, J.E. (2017). Walking for Transportation or Leisure Among US Women and Men – National Health Interview Survey, 2005 – 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(25).