Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
The aim of the study was to assess the effect of walking in reducing the effects of workplace stress which is related to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). For example altered heart rate response to stress, high blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI). Further to this, the study aimed to assess whether the environment in which the lunchtime walk took place could impact the results of the study.

Who can participate?
Participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 years. Participants were required to be healthy, that is free from any cardiovascular or neurological disease and not receiving medication that could affect either system. Participants also needed to be able to take part in fairly intense exercise.

What does the study involve?
This study consisted of an 8-week study period. During this time participants were randomly allocated to one of three groups. The groups were two lunchtime walking group and one control group. The first walking group consisted of a 2km nature route. The other walking group consisted of is a 2km route that is predominantly a built environment. Participants allocated to these groups were required to walk their given route twice a week during two separate lunch breaks. The third group was a waiting-control group who were required to continue with their regular lunchtime activities. Those in the waiting control group will be given access to the walking routes at the end of the 8 week intervention period. Following this period participants were able to walk in either environment and as many times as they wished as long as it was during their lunch break. Walking habits were recorded by the participants and primary and secondary outcome measures were assessed again after 3 months. Collection of activity diaries finished in December 2011.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Expected improvements in health and well-being. There was a small risk of injury when walking around the prescribed walking routes however a full risk assessment was carried out prior to the start of the study and participants were advised on how to minimise these risks e.g. appropriate footwear and notifying a colleague when leaving for a walk.

Where is the study run from?
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science (CSES), University of Essex

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
April 2011 to December 2011.

Who is funding the study?
The Economic and Social Research Council and the British Heart Foundation

Who is the main contact?
Dr Valerie Gladwell

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Valerie Gladwell


Contact details

University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
United Kingdom

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Walks4work: Rationale and study design to investigate walking at lunchtime in the workplace setting


Study hypothesis

1. After 8 weeks the walking groups would show improved response and recovery of heart rate and vagal tone to acute stress as compared to the waiting control group
2. The walk in the nature environment would improve heart rate response and recovery to an acute stress as compared to the built environment condition

Ethics approval

Cambridgeshire NHS Research Ethics Committee, 21/10/2010, ref: 10/H0305/66

Study design

Randomised waiting-control group trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type

Quality of life

Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Modifying workplace stress


Participants were assigned to a natural walking environment (n = 32) vs. built walking environment (n = 33) vs. waiting-control group (n = 29) for an 8 week period. Following this all participants, including the waiting control group, were given the option of walking either of the two routes when walking at lunchtime. This stage of the study lasted for 3 months following the 8-week intervention period.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

1. Heart rate responses to and recovery from a stressor
2. Changes in vagal activity over the stressor and in recovery measured using the high frequency component of heart rate variability (HRV) analysis

Secondary outcome measures

1. Levels of lunchtime physical activity
2. An objective biomarker of stress, cortisol
3. Subjective ratings of stress and mental health assessed using questionnaires, which were SF-8, Perceived stress scale, work engagement, job satisfaction, Rosenburg's self-esteem and the positive and negative affect scale
4. Changes in physical cardiovascular risk factors of blood pressure, body mass index, heart rate variability, waist circumference, and predicted aerobic fitness

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Aged between 18 - 65 years old
2. Healthy
3. Able to participate in fairly intense exercise

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Participants outside of give age range
2. Those with cardiovascular and/or neurological conditions or taking medication which affect either of these systems
3. Anyone who cannot participate in fairly intense exercise

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University of Essex
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


Economic and Social Research Council (UK)

Sponsor details

Polaris House
North Star Avenue
United Kingdom

Sponsor type

Research council



British Heart Foundation

Sponsor details

Greater London House
180 Hampstead Road
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type

Research council

Funder name

Economic Social Research Council (UK) - Early career fellowship ref: RES-064-27-0019)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

British Heart Foundation (UK) - Non-clinical PhD studentship ref: FS/10/32/28204

Alternative name(s)


Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype



United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

2012 protocol in:
2014 results in:

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes