Issue addressed: Walking for transport can contribute significantly to health-enhancing physical activity. We examined the associations of stages of motivational readiness for active transport with perceived barriers and incentives to walking to and from university among students.
Methods: Mail-back surveys were completed by 781 students in a regional university in south-east Queensland. They identified one of eight options on motivational readiness for active commuting, which were then classified as: pre-contemplation; contemplation-preparation; or, action-maintenance. Open-ended questions were used to identify relevant barriers and incentives. Logistic regressions were used to examine the barriers and incentives that distinguished between those at different stages of motivational readiness.
Results: Barriers most frequently reported were long travel distances, inconvenience and time constraints. Incentives most frequently reported were shorter travel distance, having more time, supportive infrastructure and better security. Those not considering active commuting (pre-contemplation) were significantly more likely to report shorter travel distance as an incentive compared to those in contemplation-preparation. Those in contemplation-preparation were significantly more likely to report lack of motivation, inadequate infrastructure, shorter travel distance and inconvenience as barriers; and, having more time, supportive infrastructure, social support and incentive programs as encouragement.
Conclusions: Different barriers and incentives to walking to or from university exist for students in the different stages of motivational readiness for active commuting. Interventions targeted specifically to stage of motivational readiness may be potentially helpful in increasing activity levels, through active transport.