Rambling on: Exploring the complexity of walking as a meaningful activity

Kirsty Finnie, Tania Wiseman, Neil Ravenscroft

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Walking is the most popular leisure activity in the UK and is considered to be appropriate exercise for maintaining physical health, for both men and women, of all ages (Kay and Moxham, 1996; Morris and Hardman, 1997; Fox and Rickards, 2004; Curry, et al, 2012). It is a fundamental part of human development (Solnit 2006), and is also felt, by participants, to be highly therapeutic (Robertson and Babic, 2009), providing a range of physiological and psychological health benefits (Department of Health, 2009; Roe and Aspinall, 2011). These benefits are particularly important as people enter older age and their range of leisure pursuits declines (Freysinger and Ray, 1994) yet, as a population we tend to walk less than we used to (Department of Health 2009), many healthy walking initiatives have failed (Curry, et al, 2012), and more than half of the adults in England are not meeting the minimum recommendations for physical activity (Health and Social Care Information Centre 2012). This is particularly the case for men, whose relative lack of engagement with walking is likely to be influenced by activity patterns and identities that are formed early in their lives and remain stable across their lives (Liechty and Genoe, 2013). Given the undoubted benefits of walking to men, we want in this chapter to examine the meanings of walking as a way of shifting debates away frominstrumental associations with physical health towards a more rounded view of meaning that may resonate more strongly with many men's established leisure activities and identities. The literature that explores walking is diverse, including many disciplines, and focuses on the benefits. What follows is a review of leisure-focused walking literature, in order to explore meanings, rather than outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Walking
EditorsC.M. Hall, Y. Ram, N. Shoval
Place of PublicationAbingdon, UK
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315638461
ISBN (Print)9781138195349
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge International Handbook of Walking on 28/07/2017, available online: https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-International-Handbook-of-Walking/Hall-Ram-Shoval/p/book/9781138195349


  • walking
  • leisure
  • men
  • individual experience


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