Psychosocial correlates of leisure-time walking among Australian adults of lower and higher socio-economic status

Eva Janssen, Takemi Sugiyama, Elisabeth Winkler, Hein de Vries, Fam te Poel, Neville Owen
Health Education Research 2010, 25 (2): 316-24
Adults of lower socio-economic status (SES) participate less in physical activity than those of higher SES. Understanding the correlates of physical activity participation and how these may differ between socio-economic groups can inform policies and physical activity promotion strategies. The psychosocial correlates of leisure-time walking (the most common voluntary physical activity of adults) were assessed using a survey of 2488 randomly sampled Australian adults (response rate = 74.2%). Among respondents of higher SES, there were higher levels of positive cognitions towards physical activity, and walking for leisure was more prevalent than among those of lower SES. Relationships of psychosocial attributes with leisure-time walking differed by SES. The strongest correlate of leisure-time walking was perceived barriers for lower SES adults and enjoyment for those of higher SES. Social support from friends was associated with walking for both groups, while the effect of support from family was significant only for adults of lower SES. Strategies influencing leisure-time walking may have to target the specific needs of different socio-economic groups. For example, removing perceived barriers may be more appropriate to promote walking among lower SES adults. Interventions tailored for lower SES groups may help close the socio-economic gap in physical activity participation.

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