Patterns of walking for transport and exercise: a novel application of time use data

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2005 May 17;2:5. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-2-5.


Background: Walking for exercise is a purposeful or structured activity that can be captured relatively easily in surveys focused on leisure time activity. In contrast, walking for transport is an incidental activity that is likely to be missed using these same assessment approaches. Therefore, the purpose of this analysis was to utilize 1997 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Time Use Survey diary data to describe nationally representative patterns of walking for transport and for exercise.

Methods: Household members >or= 15 years of age were recruited from over 4,550 randomly selected private dwellings in Australia. Time use diaries were collected for two designated days during all four seasons over the calendar year. 3,471 males and 3,776 females (94% household response rate and 84% person response rate) provided 14,315 diary days of data. The raw diary data were coded and summarized into bouts and minutes that included walking for transport and for exercise.

Results: Walking for transport was indicated on a higher proportion of days compared to walking for exercise (20 vs. 9%). Based on participant sub-samples ('doers'; those actually performing the activity) walking for transport was performed over 2.3 +/- 1.4 bouts/day (12.5 minutes/bout) for a total of approximately 28 mins/day and walking for exercise over 1.2 +/- 0.5 bouts/day (47 minutes/bout) for a total of approximately 56 mins/day.

Conclusion: Although walking for transport is typically undertaken in multiple brief bouts, accumulated durations approximate public health guidelines for those who report any walking for transport.