Background: To examine the association between individual-level social capital and physical activity.
Methodology/principal findings: In February 2009, data were collected in a population-based cross-sectional survey in Okayama city, Japan. A cluster-sampling approach was used to randomly select 4,000 residents from 20 school districts. A total of 2260 questionnaires were returned (response rate: 57.4%). Individual-level social capital was assessed by an item inquiring about perceived trust of others in the community (cognitive dimension of social capital) categorized as low trust (43.0%), mid trust (38.6%), and high trust (17.3%), as well as participation in voluntary groups (structural dimension of social capital), which further distinguished between bonding (8.9%) and bridging (27.1%) social capital. Using logistic regression, we calculated the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for physical inactivity associated with each domain of social capital. Multiple imputation method was employed for missing data. Among total participants, 68.8% were physically active and 28.9% were inactive. Higher trust was associated with a significantly lower odds of physical inactivity (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.42-0.79) compared with low trust. Both bridging and bonding social capital were marginally significantly associated with lower odds of physical inactivity (bridging, OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.62-1.00; bonding, OR = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.48-1.03) compared with lack of structural social capital.
Conclusions/significance: Low individual-level social capital, especially lower trust of others in the community, was associated with physical inactivity among Japanese adults.