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Open Access Research

Prediction of leisure-time walking: an integration of social cognitive, perceived environmental, and personality factors

Ryan E Rhodes1*, Kerry S Courneya2, Chris M Blanchard3 and Ronald C Plotnikoff2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

2 Faculty of Physical Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

3 Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2007, 4:51  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-51

Published: 31 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Walking is the primary focus of population-based physical activity initiatives but a theoretical understanding of this behaviour is still elusive. The purpose of this study was to integrate personality, the perceived environment, and planning into a theory of planned behaviour (TPB) framework to predict leisure-time walking.

Methods

Participants were a random sample (N = 358) of Canadian adults who completed measures of the TPB, planning, perceived neighbourhood environment, and personality at Time 1 and self-reported walking behaviour two months later.

Results

Analyses using structural equation modelling provided evidence that leisure-time walking is largely predicted by intention (standardized effect = .42) with an additional independent contribution from proximity to neighbourhood retail shops (standardized effect = .18). Intention, in turn, was predicted by attitudes toward walking and perceived behavioural control. Effects of perceived neighbourhood aesthetics and walking infrastructure on walking were mediated through attitudes and intention. Moderated regression analysis showed that the intention-walking relationship was moderated by conscientiousness and proximity to neighbourhood recreation facilities but not planning.

Conclusion

Overall, walking behaviour is theoretically complex but may best be addressed at a population level by facilitating strong intentions in a receptive environment even though individual differences may persist.