Background: Eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in physical activity remains a challenge in the United States. South Asian immigrants in the United States have particularly low physical activity levels, and evidence suggests that social context may be important. This study examined associations between personal social networks and moderate to vigorous leisure-time physical activity (MVPA) among South Asians in the United States. Methods: We used cross-sectional data (2014–2017) from 689 South Asians (aged 43–85 y) who participated in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America study. Self-reported physical activity and egocentric network data were collected from participants about their network members. Regression models were used to determine associations between social network characteristics and participants’ MVPA. Results: Participants were on average 59 years old (SD = 9) and reported 1335 metabolic equivalent minutes per week of MVPA (interquartile range = 735, 2212). Having network members who exercised or who were exercise partners associated with increased MVPA in men (β coefficient = 241 MET min/wk [95% confidence interval, 63 to 419] and β = 520 MET min/wk [95% confidence interval, 322 to 718], respectively). For women, the association was only significant if the exercise partner was a spouse. Conclusion: Physical activity interventions utilizing network members as exercise partners may have potential in South Asians but must consider gender differences.
Thanawala is with the School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA. Thanawala, Cooper, Dave, Lancki, and Kandula are with the Division of General Internal Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA. Siddique and Kandula are with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA. Schneider is with the Department of Medicine and Public Health Sciences and the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. Kanaya is with the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.