Using the social cognitive theory, this study aims to examine how gender moderates the direct and indirect relationships of various sources of social support on Chinese adolescents’ physical activity (PA).
A cross-sectional study was conducted. The final data includes 396 students (55.8% are boys) who were randomly selected from 2 middle schools and 4 high schools in Fuzhou city located in southeast China. Family support, peer support, and self-efficacy (SE) were measured using validated questionnaires. Participants’ PA was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire short form. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data. A bootstrapping method was used to determine and compare the direct and indirect effects of social support on PA across genders.
Peer support had no direct effect on PA; rather, peer support indirectly influenced PA through SE. Gender did not moderate this mediating effect. In addition, family support had neither a direct nor an indirect effect on PA via SE, and gender did not moderate these effects.
Findings suggest that peer support played a more important role than family support on study participants’ PA indirectly through SE. SE also has a similar indirect effect across genders.