GENDER AND SOCIAL INFLUENCES ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
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Physical activity (PA) is protective for health, but many Dutch people do not exercise regularly. This study investigated possible gender differences in recreational PA, and whether these gender differences can be explained by social network characteristics. The study aimed to answer the question: To what extent do gender differences in recreational PA levels exist, and can these differences be explained by social network characteristics (perceived social support, network homogeneity, and network size)? Survey data from the GLOBE study from 2014 were used to answer the research question, resulting in a sample of 2,812 Dutch adults. Linear regression and mediation analyses were performed to answer the research question. The analyses showed that women walk and bike more than men, but men work around the house and practice sports more. Network homogeneity and network size are significantly associated with walking, biking, and practicing sports for leisure. Men have more homogeneous, but smaller networks than women, and women perceive more social support than men. Network homogeneity partly mediates the relationship between gender and walking, but no other network characteristics mediate a relationship between gender and PA. The findings from this study prove that the social network is a protective factor for PA and can be used as a tool in exercise promotion programs tailored to men and women.