Natural environments can be used to promote health through facilitating recreational walking. However, efforts to encourage this often neglect messages identified in psychological research that are effective at influencing intentions to walk. This is despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence stating that promotional efforts should utilize theoretical frameworks of behaviour change and be targeted towards less active adults. As an illustrative example, this experiment compared a prototypical recreational walking brochure with an “enhanced” version including such persuasive messages on people’s intentions to walk for recreation in natural environments. The enhanced brochure heightened intentions for inexperienced recreational walkers through our hypothesized mechanisms, but appeared to dissuade already-experienced walkers. Optimal messaging strategies in recreational walking brochures require tailoring to more and less active readerships. Guidelines are provided for authors of recreational walking brochures, though the principles and techniques could easily be extended to other means of outdoor walking promotion.

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