Effects of social support about physical activity on social networking sites: applying the Theory of Planned Behavior

Ni Zhang, Shelly Campo, Jingzhen Yang, Kathleen F. Janz, Linda G. Snetselaar, Petya Eckler

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Despite the physical and mental health benefits of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), only about half of college students participate in the recommended amount of LTPA. While college students are avid users of social network sites (SNSs), whether SNSs would be an effective channel for promoting LTPA through peer social support is unclear. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of social support from students’ contacts on SNSs on their intention to participate in LTPA, applying the Theory of Planned Behavior. Participants were recruited through a mass email sent to undergraduate students at a large Midwestern university in Fall 2011. A total of 439 surveys were analyzed. Descriptive analyses and analysis for mediating effects were conducted. Social support about LTPA from contacts on SNSs has indirect effect on intention through affective attitude, instrumental attitude and perceived behavioral control (PBC). The results indicate that social support about LTPA from contacts on SNSs might not be effective to change students’ intention unless attitudes and PBC are changed. Future interventions aiming to promote students’ intention to participate in LTPA by increasing support from contacts on SNSs should increase affective attitude, instrumental attitude and PBC at the same time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalHealth Communication
Early online date18 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • leisure-time physical activity
  • LTPA
  • social media
  • social networking sites
  • Theory of Planned Behavior

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