Social Moderators and Mediators of Age-And Gender-Based Disparities In Adults’ Physical Activity
Introduction: Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for morbidity and disability among older adults. Expanding social network support for physical activity holds promise for increasing physical activity among aging populations. Additionally, women engage in less physical activity than men, increasing the risk for health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Evidence suggests that expanding social network support may increase women’s physical activity; however, limited research has explored how social network support may explain gender-based variations in physical activity. The objectives of this research were to: (1) assess whether social network characteristics moderate the relationship between age and physical activity level (Study 1), and (2) examine if in-person and online social network structure may help explain gender-based differences in physical activity (Study 2). Methods: Data for both studies were collected using a cross-sectional study design over a 4-month period (November 2020 through February 2021). The sample included 205 participants. Descriptive statistics (i.e., means, standard deviations, and frequencies) were used to assess sample characteristics. In Study 1, moderation tests were conducted using interaction analyses. Social network characteristics (friend network size, friend contact frequency, relative network size, and relative contact frequency) were examined for their effects on associations between age and both short-term and long-term physical activity. We also assessed whether social network characteristics (i.e., social network size, frequency of social network interactions, and online friend size) mediate the relationship between gender and either short-term or long-term physical activity. In Study 2, mediation analyses proposed by Preacher and Hayes were conducted to determine the indirect of effect of gender on physical activity through social networks. Results: In Study 1, the moderation analysis revealed that Friend network size negatively moderated the relationship between age and past-week physical activity (β = -6.66; p = .025). Friend network size also negatively moderated the relationship between age and past-year physical activity (β = -576.02; p = .017). In Study 2, results from the mediation analysis revealed that women were significantly less physically active (β = -73.822; p = .019) than men, and reported significantly more Facebook friends (β = .297; p < 0.001) than men, which was significantly and inversely associated with past-week physical activity (β = -64.489; p = .034). Additionally, the indirect effect of gender on past-week physical activity through Facebook friends was significant (β = -19.128; 95% CI [-40.453, -2.091]). Conclusion: The moderation analyses (study 1) suggest that effect of age on physical activity varies by social network size. Findings suggest that future physical activity interventions may benefit from helping older adults to maintain their existing close friendships rather than trying to expand their social network. The mediation results (study 2) indicate that the relationship between gender and physical activity was partially mediated by the number Facebook friends—suggesting potential value in harnessing inactive women’s online social networks to help increase their physical activity.
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|Work Title||Social Moderators and Mediators of Age-And Gender-Based Disparities In Adults’ Physical Activity|
|License||In Copyright (Rights Reserved)|
|Deposited||August 10, 2021|
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