Interventions to Promote Walking: Systematic Review

This study assesses the effects of interventions to promote walking in individuals and populations by conducting a systematic review of published and unpublished reports in any language identified by searching 25 electronic databases, by searching websites, reference lists, and existing systematic reviews, and by contacting experts.

  • The authors perform a systematic search for and appraisal of controlled before and after studies of the effects of any type of intervention on how much people walk, the distribution of effects on walking between social groups, and any associated effects on overall physical activity, fitness, risk factors for disease, health, and wellbeing.
  • The study included 19 randomized controlled trials and 29 non-randomized controlled studies. Interventions tailored to people's needs, targeted at the most sedentary or at those most motivated to change, and delivered either at the level of the individual (brief advice, supported use of pedometers, telecommunications) or household (individualized marketing) or through groups, can encourage people to walk more, although the sustainability, generalizability, and clinical benefits of many of these approaches are uncertain. Evidence for the effectiveness of interventions applied to workplaces, schools, communities, or areas typically depends on isolated studies or subgroup analysis.
  • The most successful interventions could increase walking among targeted participants by up to 30-60 minutes a week on average, at least in the short term. From a perspective of improving population health, much of the research currently provides evidence of efficacy rather than effectiveness. Nevertheless, interventions to promote walking could contribute substantially towards increasing the activity levels of the most sedentary.

Ogilvie, D., Foster, C.E., Rothnie, H., et al. (2007). Interventions to Promote Walking: Systematic Review. British Medical Journal 334(7605):1204.

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