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Kassavou A, Turner A, French DP Do interventions to promote walking in groups increase physical activity? A meta-analysis Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013;10:18.
Does walking in groups promote physical activity for younger and older adults? Does impact vary by participant’s age or gender, the length of the program or the person delivering the intervention?
Group walking has become a popular form of physical activity in many countries, especially among those who tend to be physically inactive and/or have existing chronic diseases. Physical activity is important to promote and maintain health.
This is a summary of 19 single studies. The studies included 4572 participants with an average age of 60 years (ranging from 44 to 88 years).
Interventions included walking in groups, walking in groups plus other physical activities, and walking in groups with a supportive patient education program for chronic diseases (e.g. self-management) or lifestyle behaviours.
The review looked for differences in impact for outcomes up to 6 months vs. outcomes over 6 months; interventions that targeted only women vs. both genders; interventions for younger adults (<60 years old) vs. older adults (>60 years old); and interventions delivered by lay people vs. by professionals.
Interventions to promote walking in groups were effective at increasing physical activity.
Group walking was effective at increasing physical activity, particularly for programs that were longer than 6 months.
Group walking had the greatest impact when targeted at both genders.
Group walking was effective for increasing physical activity in both those under and over 60 years, but had greatest impact on those over 60.
Group walking programs are equally effective when delivered by lay people or professionals.
Group walking programs are an effective strategy to promote physical activity, especially among those over 60 years.