The benefits of walking in a pandemic to be explored in research project

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A RESEARCH project is asking people across the UK to take part in survey to help capture the experiences of walking in a pandemic. 

The investigation led by The University of Glasgow hopes to find out if more people are out walking because of Covid-19, and what their experiences have been like.

The project will also look at how walking can inspire creativity.

Emma and Millie-Scottish News
Emma and daughter Millie (age 4) with Professor Deirdre Heddon of the University of Glasgow
(Photograph by
© Martin Shields)

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the UK Research and Innovation rapid response to COVID-19.

Leading the project is Professor Deirdre Heddon, who is also in collaboration with academics from University College Cork, University of Liverpool and the University of East London.  

Professor Heddon said: We know that walking is good for people in all sorts of ways. It helps with physical and mental health.

“Existing surveys tell us that more people have been walking more during Covid19, but we don’t yet know enough about their actual experiences of walking: who is walking, where are they walking, why are they walking, even how they are walking and how they feel about walking?”

The researchers also want to connect with artists across the UK who use walking as part of their artistic practice and others who maybe for the first time have turned to walking as a creative resource during COVID-19.

walking in a pandemic-Scottish News
Walking can be beneficial to human wellbeing, placemaking, community building, and environmental sustainability
(Photograph by © Martin Shields)

Clare QualmannSenior Lecturer in Performing Arts at the University of East Londonsaid: Over the last year we have for example seen theatre practitioners create audio walks to continue making work when theatres are closed.

“There’s a significant group of artists who already define themselves as Walking Artists, and some of them have been creating regular remote walks to support and connect people, irrespective of physical distance.”

Maggie ONeillProfessor in Sociology & Criminology at University College Cork (UCC)saidAs we emerge from the pandemic, we need to recover from it. Given the multiple potential benefits of walking, including enjoyment and pleasure, we think that anything that supports more people, and more diverse people, to walk and keep walking, will be vital.”

As well as collecting experience of walking and creativity during Covid, the researchers aim to work with artists to create a free walking toolkit, which they hope will sustain or inspire more walking by more people.

The survey closes to the public on May 21.