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The contribution of walking to work to adult physical activity levels: a cross sectional study

Suzanne Audrey1*, Sunita Procter1 and Ashley R Cooper23

Author Affiliations

1 School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK

2 Centre for Exercise Nutrition and Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TZ, UK

3 National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:37  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-37

Published: 11 March 2014



To objectively examine the contribution to adult physical activity levels of walking to work.


Employees (n = 103; 36.3 ± 11.7 years) at 17 workplaces in south-west England, who lived within 2 miles (3.2 km) of their workplace, wore Actigraph accelerometers for seven days during waking hours and carried GPS receivers during the commute to and from work. Physical activity volume (accelerometer counts per minute (cpm)) and intensity (minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA)) were computed overall and during the walk to work.


Total weekday physical activity was 45% higher in participants who walked to work compared to those travelling by car (524.6. ± 170.4 vs 364.6 ± 138.4 cpm) and MVPA almost 60% higher (78.1 ± 24.9 vs 49.8 ± 25.2 minutes per day). No differences were seen in weekend physical activity, and sedentary time did not differ between the groups. Combined accelerometer and GPS data showed that walking to work contributed 47.3% of total weekday MVPA.


Walking to work was associated with overall higher levels of physical activity in young and middle-aged adults. These data provide preliminary evidence to underpin the need for interventions to increase active commuting, specifically walking, in adults.

Physical activity measurement; Accelerometer; Walking; Adult physical activity guidelines