for Exercise Works Best
Support for Men and Women
(AP) -- For college men, exercise works on the buddy system: If
their friends exercise, they do, a study says.
not true for women, who relied more on support from their families.
And a researcher thinks college women do less exercise than men
do because the female buddy system isn't as strong as the men's.
from a physical activity snowball effect, said researcher Lorraine
Silver Wallace. "Because males are more active themselves, their
friends are more likely to be active," she said. "They have more
social support. There are more of them doing it."
Wallace recently published a study (journal of Preventive Medicine)
that looked at questionnaire responses from 937 randomly selected
Ohio State students. The students' exercise patterns were fairly
similar to those in national surveys, said co-researcher Janet
Buckworth of Ohio State. Thirty-nine percent of Ohio State men
reported exercising at least 3 days a week for 20 minutes at a
time over the previous six months. In comparison, 26 percent of
was an attempt to get a handle on what motivates young adults
to exercise, because too few do, and many of the exercisers drop
out after they graduate, Buckworth said.
who exercised regularly commonly reported they had high social
support from their friends, Wallace said. The 27 percent of men
who weren't exercising, and weren't thinking of trying, commonly
also had little encouragement from their friends, she said. And
the 34 percent who were occasional exercisers had moderate support,
however, the crucial determinant seemed to be family support.
The regular exercisers had high family encouragement to work out,
while the 37 percent of women who weren't even thinking about
starting to exercise commonly said their families weren't enthused.
Another 37 percent who were occasional exercisers had moderate
members of college students often live far from campus. So family
may be a weaker substitute for the on-campus peer support that
the men have, said Wallace, who called for more efforts to build
peer networks for women.
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