Walking is the primary focus of population-based physical activity initiatives but a theoretical understanding of this behaviour is still elusive. The purpose of this study was to integrate personality, the perceived environment, and planning into a theory of planned behaviour (TPB) framework to predict leisure-time walking.
Participants were a random sample (N = 358) of Canadian adults who completed measures of the TPB, planning, perceived neighbourhood environment, and personality at Time 1 and self-reported walking behaviour two months later.
Analyses using structural equation modelling provided evidence that leisure-time walking is largely predicted by intention (standardized effect = .42) with an additional independent contribution from proximity to neighbourhood retail shops (standardized effect = .18). Intention, in turn, was predicted by attitudes toward walking and perceived behavioural control. Effects of perceived neighbourhood aesthetics and walking infrastructure on walking were mediated through attitudes and intention. Moderated regression analysis showed that the intention-walking relationship was moderated by conscientiousness and proximity to neighbourhood recreation facilities but not planning.
Overall, walking behaviour is theoretically complex but may best be addressed at a population level by facilitating strong intentions in a receptive environment even though individual differences may persist.