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Popularity and Friendships and Their Relationship to Physical Activity Before and After Transition to a Higher School Grade

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Popularity and Friendships and Their Relationship to Physical Activity Before and After Transition to a Higher School Grade

Kenda C Swanson et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health.

Abstract

Background This study investigated the relationships between children's friendship ties and their physical activity (PA) both before and after their transition to a new school year. Methods In 2011-2012, children in grades 5-8 attending a Canadian urban middle-school completed web-based health and friendship surveys two times before ("pre-transition") and three times after ("post-transition") they moved up in school grade. Cross-sectional associations between an average daily frequency of ≥60 min/day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) and characteristics of children's friendships were estimated for pre-transition (n = 191) and post-transition (n = 255) data. Sociodemographic-adjusted linear regression (β) estimated associations between a child's MVPA and friendship characteristics. Results We found positive associations between a child's MVPA and the average MVPA of their friends at post-transition only (β = 0.61, 95% CI 0.10 to 1.13) and the number of sent friendships at pre-transition (β = 0.03, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.05) and post-transition (β = 0.02, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.04). A statistically significant interaction between popularity and friends' average PA at pre-transition was also found. Conclusions The PA of friends and the number of school friends that a child identified are positively associated with MVPA. The estimated associations between MVPA and aspects of children's friendships are similar for boys and girls.

Keywords: child; exercise; friendship; peers; physical activity; school; social network; social support.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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