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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Dr Janelle Wagnild

Pollard, Tessa M. & Wagnild, Janelle M. (2017). Gender differences in walking (for leisure, transport and in total) across adult life: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 17(1): 341.

Author(s) from Durham


Background: The aim of this systematic review was to examine gender differences in walking for leisure, transport
and in total in adults living in high-income countries, and to assess whether gender differences in walking practices
change across the life-course.
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted of publications dated 1995 to 2015. Papers providing
quantitative data on participation in walking of both men and women aged at least 18 years in a high-income
country were screened for the quality of the data on gender differences in walking. Data were extracted and results
were synthesised using forest plots and narrative summary.
Results: Thirty-six studies were included in the review: 18 reported on walking for leisure, 16 on walking for
transport (in total, or for particular purposes), and 14 on total walking. Most (33) studies provided data comparing
the proportion of men and women who walked (at all or for a minimum duration) over a defined period, usually
one week. There was consistent evidence that more women than men walk for leisure, although effect sizes were
small. However, this effect varies by age: more younger women than younger men walk for leisure, but the gender
difference diminishes with age and appears to reverse in the oldest age groups. Taking all ages together, there was
no consistent gender difference in walking for transport or in total walking, although the small number of studies
reporting on walking to undertake errands suggested that more women than men walk for this purpose.
Conclusions: While there is little evidence that levels of total walking consistently vary by gender, our findings
suggest that there are consistent gender differences in participation in walking for some purposes, including for
leisure, and that there are gender differences in the impact of age on walking. We conclude that more research is
needed to improve our understanding of how walking fits into the lives of women and men across the life-course,
especially in relation to gender differences in the impact of aging on walking.
Prospero registration: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42015025961.