Perceptions and the role of group exercise among New York City adults, 2010-2011: an examination of interpersonal factors and leisure-time physical activity

Prev Med. 2015 Mar;72:50-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.01.001. Epub 2015 Jan 10.


Objective: To examine associations of descriptive norms (i.e., behaviors of social group members) and exercising 'with a partner' or 'as a part of a group' on weekly leisure-time physical activity.

Methods: T-tests and adjusted multivariable linear models were used to test the associations between descriptive norms and exercising with a partner or as a part of a group with self-reported leisure-time physical activity using the cross-sectional, population-based New York City Physical Activity and Transit (PAT) Survey 2010-2011 (n=3806).

Results: Overall, 70.6% of adult New Yorkers reported having physically active friends. Having active friends was associated with increased leisure-time physical activity; however, the effect varied by sex. Compared to those who did not have active friends, males with active friends reported two times more activity (56 min/week) and women reported two and a half times more activity (35 min/week) (both p-values<0.001). Physically active males and females who usually engaged in leisure-time activities as a part of a group reported 1.4 times more activity than those who exercised alone (both p-values<0.03).

Conclusions: Descriptive norms and group exercise were associated with leisure-time physical activity among adults. Based on these associations, encouraging group exercise may be an effective strategy for increasing leisure-time physical activity among certain subgroups.

Keywords: Descriptive norms; GPAQ; Group exercise; LTPA; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Leisure Activities / psychology*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult