UBC Undergraduate Research

Initiatives to Promote Walking on The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Campus Alfonso, Ryan; Kotani, Hana; Sachet, Juliette; Tavakolifard, Raha


The purpose of this study was to understand UBC students’ perceptions of, and barriers to walking on the UBC Vancouver campus. This year, an outlined project priority from our campus partners was to foster wellbeing and inclusive place-based and resilient communities by promoting more walking on campus (UBC SEEDS, 2021). As previously identified, when young adults begin university, there is typically a decline in their overall participation in physical activity (Leslie, Sparling & Owen, 2001). Similarly, this transition enhances perceived barriers for university students to participate in PA, defined through intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural barriers (Carballo-Fazanes, 2020; Thomas et al., 2019). An online survey was created and piloted using Qualtrics software and consisted of 26 questions that took approximately 5 minutes to complete. This was then distributed across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and word of mouth between March 2021 and April 2021 (see Appendix A). The survey was posted in group chats and group pages that are associated with our target population of current UBC students who live on the Vancouver campus to better understand their walking behaviours and perceptions. The total number of participants who completed the survey was 42, and of those 29 identified as female, 12 identified as male and 1 identified as other. Additionally, all students currently live on campus and are enrolled in classes at UBC. It was indicated that of these participants 9.5% reported they went on leisure walks “everyday”, 19.0 % reported “most days”, 35.7% reported “on a few days”, 21.4% reported “once a week” and 14.3% reported “never”. However, in regards to transportation, 90.5% of participants used walking as their primary mode of transportation on campus. In regards to safety, an implication of this study is that students reported feeling relatively safe walking on campus during the day, with the average score being 4.4, 5 representing feeling the most safe. However, when asked about their perception of safety walking on campus in the evening and nighttime, this score dropped to 3.0. The data also suggests that there is a correlation between gender differences and perceived safety on campus. Future recommendations have been outlined in 4 key avenues including campus infrastructure, education, improving current UBC walking initiatives, and research. Campus infrastructure should be further investigated in regards to safety on campus where lighting and security have been identified by participants as ways the university may increase walking on campus. The recommendation of education is to provide first year university students who typically come from diverse academic backgrounds to gain a standard level of knowledge pertaining to the physical and mental benefits of walking. The third recommendation is to improve current UBC walking initiatives such as AMS Safewalk. Lastly, the recommendation of research is to identify critical questions, directions, and insight for further contributions that were out of the scope of this present study. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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