Social influences in sports activity among adolescents

Noémi Keresztes, Bettina F. Piko, Zsuzsanna F. Pluhar, Randy M. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Habits of leisure time sports activity, similar to other health behaviours, are established during late childhood and early adolescence. While regular leisure time sports activity is a natural part of children's lifestyle, it starts to decrease during adolescence, particularly among girls. Among the factors influencing children's sports activity, the role of parents, peers, and other members of children's social networks seem to be crucial. The purpose of this study was to determine the role of social influences in early adolescents' leisure time sports activity and to examine gender differences. Methods: Data were collected from middle school students using randomly selected classes from four schools in distinct school districts in Szeged, Hungary, using a self-administered questionnaire (n = 548) in which a response rate of 91% was achieved. Respondents were 10-15 years of age (mean = 12.2 years, SD = 1.2 years) with 54.9% of the sample male and 45.1% female. Results: Results show significant others as an important influence on sport-related behaviours and suggest that during early adolescence girls' sports participation is particularly influenced by the social influence of peers (e.g. friends, classmates, boy/girlfriend). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that health promotion programmes should build on possible social influences, i.e. the role of peers, parents and significant others in general, in fostering adolescents' physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-25
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Royal Society For the Promotion of Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Gender
  • Leisure
  • Sports social influences


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