Physical activity and social support in adolescents: a systematic review

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  1. Gerfeson Mendonça1,2,*,
  2. Luanna Alexandra Cheng1,2,
  3. Edilânea Nunes Mélo1 and
  4. José Cazuza de Farias Júnior1,2,3

  1. 1Postgraduate Associated Program in Physical Education – UPE/UFPB, Brazil, 2Research and Study Groups in Epidemiology of Physical Activity – GEPEAF, Brazil and 3Federal University of Paraíba – UFPB, Department Physical Education, Brazil
  1. ↵*Correspondence to: G. Mendonça. E-mail: gerfeson_edf{at}
  • Received May 18, 2013.
  • Accepted March 27, 2014.


The objective of this review was to systematically synthesize the results of original studies on the association between physical
activity and social support in adolescents, published until April 2011. Searches were carried out in Adolec, Eric, Lilacs,
Medline, SciELO, Scopus, SportsDiscus and Web of Science electronic databases and the reference lists of selected articles.
Searches for articles, data extraction and assessment of methodological quality were conducted independently by two reviewers.
In total, 75 articles met inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Most studies were published over the past 6 years (2006–11),
conducted in high-income countries, with a cross-sectional design, using subjective measures of physical activity (e.g. questionnaires
and recall) and exhibited medium to high methodological quality level. Social support was positive and consistently associated
with the physical activity level of adolescents in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Those who received more overall
social support as well as support from both parents, friends and family showed higher levels of physical activity. It is concluded
that social support is an important factor associated with physical activity level in adolescents and should be targeted in
intervention programs that aim to increase physical activity levels in this population group.

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