UBC Undergraduate Research

Walking Programs and Walkability at UBC Vancouver Dhesi, Palwinder; Ren, Tiffany; Tong, Derrick; Worthen, Michael


Walking is a great form of physical activity that bestows a variety of social, environmental, physical, and psychological benefits upon an individual. Despite all of these benefits that walking brings, there tends to be a decline in walking rates among college and university students. Some common reasons involve not seeing walking as enough of an intensity to bring on physical health benefits, choosing more convenient forms of transportation from a time and energy conservation standpoint, and being a part of a physical environment that provides barriers to walking amongst this demographic. All of these reasons have led to increasing sedentary levels in post secondary students, especially while on campus. The purpose of this study was to evaluate undergraduate students' perceptions of UBC Recreation’s existing walking programs and explore the motivations, reasons, and perceptions for walking among this demographic. Recommendations will be provided to help improve the existing walking programs and the overall walkability of the UBC Vancouver campus. This study was conducted through online surveys using Qualtrics from March 24th to April 5th, 2021. The survey consisted of mainly quantitative questions and a couple of qualitative questions. The survey included 31 questions which were broken down into four parts: individual's background information, attitudes and motivations towards walking, walkability of the UBC Vancouver Campus, and perceptions of Move UBC's walking programs. The survey was distributed to UBC undergraduate students through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The most common barriers that participants can control to walking that came out of our research questions were time conflict, not viewing walking as an effective behaviour for improving physical fitness, lack of social interactions, poor lighting on campus, and a general lack of knowledge regarding the different walking programs that are offered by UBC Recreation. All of these potential barriers are encompassed in the socioecological model of promoting health behaviours. It takes the majority of our participants at least 30 minutes to travel to campus and also engage in active transportation (e.g. public transit, walking, biking), yet they remain sedentary for long periods throughout the day, which highlights the work that’s needed to be done on campus to promote more walking. As a result of our findings, we offer the following recommendation to improve walking on campus: to improve safety concerns in the dark by improving lighting in certain areas. We offer the following two recommendations to improve the currently existing walking programs at UBC Vancouver: to create a class based incentive system, and to specialize walking programs for specific faculties. We offer the following recommendation to guide future research involving this topic: to analyze how the COVID-19 Pandemic will influence students' walking habits as they return to a crowded social campus environment. 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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