Barriers and Facilitators to Recreational Walking: An Evidence Review

Paul Kelly, Graham Baker, Ailsa Niven, Jemima Cooper, Niamh Hart, Jack Martin, Tessa Strain, Nanette Mutrie

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report was commissioned by Ramblers Scotland and Paths for All - two of Scotland’s most prominent walking charities - to illustrate what the existing evidence base tells us about barriers and facilitators to recreational walking
in Scotland.

The evidence review was conducted by the team at the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC), at the University of Edinburgh. The objectives were to:
• Summarise the existing evidence on barriers and facilitators to recreational walking in Scotland;
• Highlight gaps in the evidence base;
• Make the case for specific actions and strategy for walking advocates, groups and organisations.

The review identified 12 critical factors that can act as barriers and/or facilitators to recreational walking. Organised by the levels of the Ecological framework, these were:

Individual Factors:
Ill-health and poor health status, Awareness of health and well-being benefits, Knowledge of routes and options, Existing negative attitudes to walking, Experience of walking and sense of achievement, and Practicalities and expectations of walking and walking ability.

Social Environment Factors:
Companionship and Social deprivation

Physical Environment Factors:
Scenery and landscapes, Natural environment, Accessibility and access, and Safety

Analysis of these factors generated a series of recommendations for Ramblers Scotland, Paths for All, other walking advocates, and for future research priorities.
Some of these factors could be directly addressed by walking
advocates while others may be harder or impossible to modify
(e.g., age, gender, SIMD) but which still give indications for
specific target groups in the Scottish population.
Action across all these areas is likely to contribute to increasing
levels of recreational walking in Scotland, and in turn contribute
to improved health and well-being outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyPaths for All
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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