Social and psychological factors associated with adolescent physical activity

Jeanette M. Garcia, John R. Sirard, Ross Larsen, Meg Bruening, Melanie Wall, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine, using structural equation modeling, the associations between nominated friend physical activity (PA), friend social support with individual PA-related psychological factors, and adolescent PA. Methods: Data were obtained from EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity Among Teens), a large cross-sectional study conducted in 20 middle and high schools. The sample consisted of 1951 adolescents (mean age: 14.25 ± 1.96, 54% female, 68% ethnic minorities). PA, parent and friend social support (perceived social support for PA from parents and friends), and psychological measures (PA enjoyment, PA self-efficacy, and PA barriers) were assessed by self-report questionnaires. The SEM analysis consisted of 1 observed variable: friend PA, and 2 latent constructs: psychological factors, perceived social support. Results: The model was a good fit, indicating that there were significant direct effects of both friend PA (P < .01) and psychological factors (P < .0001) on adolescent PA. In addition, psychological factors mediated the association between friend PA and adolescent PA. Conclusion: The results of this model suggest that psychological factors and friend PA are associated with adolescent PA, and that psychological factors may play an important role. Future studies should further examine the association of both friend PA and psychological variables with adolescent PA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-963
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the participating schools, students, and sources of funding for the study: NIH NICHD R21 5R21HD58707-2 (principal investigator: JRS). Project EAT-2010 was funded by NIH NHLBI 1 RO1 HL084064-01A2 (principal investigator: DN-S) and NIH NICHD R21 5R21D58707-2 (principle investigator: JRS).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Human Kinetics, Inc.


  • Friends
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social influences
  • Structural equation modeling


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