Original Research Effect of Social Support on Adolescents’
Perceptions of and Engagement
in Physical Activity
Background: Social support can influence physical activity among some individuals. This study examined the effect that social support has on adolescents’ physical activity and their perceived barriers and benefits to exercising. Methods: A survey was completed by adolescents (N = 535) at 2 single-sex (1 male, 1 female) high schools in Ohio. Results: Adolescents who received parental encouragement to exercise and who had an exercising friend engaged in significantly more days of physical activity in the past week than did their counterparts. Perceived benefits of physical activity differed significantly based on whether the respondent received parental encouragement and had a friend who exercised. Social support for physical activity significantly affected adolescents’ perceptions of and engagement in physical activity. Conclusions: Parents should encourage their children to become physically active and partner with peers when exercising.