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BACKGROUND: Walking is a simple activity that could help to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases in all populations. Furthermore, an inverse dose-response relationship exists between steps taken and risk of premature death and cardiovascular events in middle-aged and older adults. There is a lack of information on how to effectively engage older adults around retirement age in walking. This qualitative study explored attitudes towards walking in older people with regard to habits, intensity, preferences and strategies for increasing walking behaviour. METHODS: In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 26 older adults who were either close to retirement or recently retired. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted. RESULTS: Three themes were identified from the data; 1) Engagement and perceived value of walking; was focused on the meaning of walking for the participant and the attributes they associate with their walking practice. 2) Integration and connectivity of walking; was focused on how participants integrate walking in their daily lives and whether walking can be practiced as a viable means of connectivity. 3) Strategies to increase walking; was focused on what factors motivate participants in their walking practice and what strategies they perceived to be beneficial to increase walking distance and intensity at an individual level. DISCUSSION: The views of walking in people of retirement age were represented within 3 key themes. The factors contained in these themes that may influence future walking practice are discussed with regard to future strategies to promote walking in the retirement life change. CONCLUSION: It may be beneficial to promote qualitative aspects of walking practice and strive for regularity rather than intensity of walking to accrue the social, psychological and intellectual benefits reported by individuals in the retirement life change.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Public Health

Publication Date





Cadence, Habits, Intensity, Motivation, Qualitative, Retirement, Strategies, Walking, Aged, Attitude, Habits, Humans, Middle Aged, Qualitative Research, Quality of Life, Retirement, Walking