Purpose: the purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the physical activity modeling and physical activity actions of best friends are associated with the physical activity of 10- to 11-yr-old children.
Methods: data were collected from 986 children of whom 472 provided complete physical activity and best friend data. Participants identified their "best friend" within the school and answered how often they took part in physical activity with the friend and if the friend had encouraged them to be active. Physical activity was assessed via accelerometer for all children and friends. Mean minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day (MVPA) and mean accelerometer counts per minute (CPM) were obtained for all children and best friends. Regression models were run separately for boys and girls and used to examine associations between child and best friend physical activity.
Results: for girls, mean MVPA was associated with frequency of activity of the best friend (P ≤ 0.02 for all categories) and engaging in physical activity at home or in the neighborhood (t = 2.27, P = 0.030), with similar patterns for mean CPM. Boys' mean MVPA was associated with their best friend's mean MVPA (t = 3.68, P = 0.001) and being active at home or in the local neighborhood (t = 2.52, P = 0.017).
Conclusions: boys who have active friends spend more minutes in MVPA. Girls who frequently take part in physical activity with their best friend obtain higher levels of physical activity. Boys and girls who take part in physical activity with their best friend at home or in the neighborhood where they live engage in higher levels of physical activity.