Attitudes, Barriers, and Motivators Toward Daily Walking and a Mobile App to Increase Walking Among Women: Web-Based Anonymous Survey

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JMIR formative research






COVID-19; age; chronic disease; mHealth; mental health; mobile app; mobile health; mobile phone; physical activity; step counts; walking; wearable activity tracker; women’s health


BACKGROUND: There are disparities in the prevalence of physical activity (PA) with women engaging in less PA than men, a gap which widens during midlife. Walking is a generally accepted form of PA among women and should be encouraged. Motivations, barriers, and attitudes to engaging in walking change with age, but the influencing factors are not well understood nor are the features of mobile apps that facilitate daily walking. OBJECTIVE: This study explores the relationship between age and women's self-reported motivations, barriers, attitudes, and beliefs toward daily walking. It further assesses attitudes toward features of a mobile app designed to sync with a wearable step tracker to increase and maintain levels of daily walking among women. METHODS: A web-based anonymous survey was completed by 400 women, aged 21-75 years. The 31-item survey captured women's perceived barriers and motivators toward daily walking and attitudes toward mobile apps to support and maintain daily walking. For analysis, responses to the survey were grouped into 2 categories of women: ages 21-49 years and ages 50-75 years. Bivariate analyses were conducted through SPSS (IBM Corp) for each of the survey questions using chi-square for dichotomous variables and 1-tailed t tests for scales and continuous variables to identify significant differences between the groups. One-tailed t tests were run for scaled variables to identify significant differences between the 10-year age increments. RESULTS: Significant barriers to daily walking were observed in the 21-49-year group for personal and work responsibilities, motivational and psychosocial factors, and physical and environmental factors. Motivators to walk daily in the 21- 49-year group were significantly higher to reduce stress and anxiety, and motivators to walk daily in the 50-75-year group were significantly higher to help manage or lose weight and to reduce the risk of chronic illness. Women's walking preferences, beliefs around their walking behaviors, and their perceived importance of the features of a future mobile app for walking designed specifically for women showed significant variation according to age. When asked about the importance of features for a mobile app, women aged 21-49 years indicated a significantly higher number of positive responses for the following features: digital community support, rewards or point system, and seeing a daily or weekly or monthly progress chart. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that barriers, motivators, and beliefs around daily walking and the importance of preferred features of a mobile app vary according to women's ages. Messaging and app features should be tailored to different age groups of women. These study results can be viewed as a foundation for future research and development of mobile health interventions to effectively increase daily walking among women of all ages.


Prevention and Community Health