Physical Activity and Thriving Community: Can Group-Walking Generate Social Capital? A Literature Review

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Positive psychology is an empirical study of the conditions and processes that contribute to the flourishing or optimal functioning of individuals, groups, and society. Positive relationships play a crucial role in well-being, and yet, social capital in the United States has been declining with individuals becoming more isolated. Thus, an innovative positive intervention that promotes stronger social ties between members of society could vastly improve the well-being of individuals as well as the community as a whole. Recently, researchers have reported that oxytocin promotes pro-social interaction, trustworthiness, and empathy. There is also research showing that physical activity increases oxytocin level. In this manuscript, the impact of group-based walking intervention on community development is discussed. It is found that group-based walking interventions substantially increase social capital that includes sense of connectedness, collective efficacy, social engagement, acceptance of other groups, and improved social infrastructures. Throughout the literature, key factors for successful interventions emerged which were a competent walking group leader, strong partnership between government and community, a local facility, being part of a larger program, identification of opportunities for participation in community activities (e.g. charity), and receiving regular feedback from participants and stakeholders.


physical activity, social capital, society, relationships, exercise, community


Health/Wellness, Relationships


Literature Review



Date Posted: 19 December 2014