Objective: To examine population trends in lifestyle walking in New South Wales (NSW), Australia between 1998 and 2006. Methods: Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing surveys were conducted in 1998 and annually from 2002 to 2006. The weighted and standardized prevalence estimates of any walking (AW) for exercise, recreation or travel (i.e. ≥ 10 min/week) and of regular walking (RW) (i.e. ≥ 150 mins/week over ≥ 5 occasions) in population sub-groups were determined for each year. Adjusted annual change was calculated using multiple regression analyses. Results: The prevalence of AW was high in 1998 (80.0%, 95% CI: 79.4%-80.6%) and increased to 83.5% (95% CI: 82.7%-84.3%) in 2006. The prevalence of RW was stable between 1998 and 2003 (∼ 29%), and gradually increased between 2004 (32.9%, 95% CI: 32.0%-33.8%) and 2006 (36.5%, 95% CI: 35.4%-37.6%). The yearly increases differed in magnitude but were significant for all population sub-groups including 75 years and older, the obese, people living in remote locations and those in the most disadvantaged socio-economic status quintile. Socio-economic differential in RW was no longer significant in 2006. Conclusion: Over time, everyday walking has the potential to reduce health inequalities that is due to inactivity. Public health efforts to promote active living and address obesity, as well as a rise in gasoline prices, might have contributed to this trend.
- Lifestyle walking