Previously inactive rural adults’ experiences of commencing and maintaining a walking routine following participation in a walking intervention

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Abstract

Objective:

This study aimed to richly describe previously inactive Riverland adults’ experiences of commencing and maintaining a walking routine following participation in a walking intervention.

Design:

Qualitative description using semi-structured in-depth interviews and thematic analysis.

Setting:

Riverland, South Australia.

Participants:

Nine adults (four men and five women) aged between 40 and 65 years.

Intervention:

Six-week walking intervention included issuing of pedometers, setting goals, completing logs and weekly emails to remind participants to wear their pedometers, recording of steps and provision of strategies for increasing daily steps.

Main outcome measures:

Rich description of participants’ experiences represented by four themes and a number of subthemes, supported by direct quotes.

Results:

Four themes: taking care of me through my walk, pedometers and accountability as motivators, fitting walking in and commencing and maintaining a walking routine.

Conclusions:

The participants’ experience of commencing a walking routine differed from maintaining a walking routine. Future attempts to support maintenance of a walking routine may be strengthened through identifying and including ways to provide accountability for walking to others beyond the intervention as well as strategies that support the integration of walking into every activity. Furthermore, future walking interventions should enable participants to tailor their walks to their own preferences and mental health benefits of walking should be promoted at least as much as the physical benefits.

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