The Association between Gender and Physical Activity Was Partially Mediated by Social Network Size during COVID-19

Ashley Kuzmik, Yin Liu, Yendelela Cuffee, Lan Kong, Christopher N. Sciamanna, Liza S. Rovniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted physical activity, particularly among women. Limited research has explored how social network support may explain gender-based variations in physical activity during COVID-19. The purpose of this study was to examine the mediating role of social networks in the association between gender and physical activity during a pandemic. This cross-sectional survey assessed whether social network characteristics (i.e., in-person social network size, frequency of in-person social network interactions, and online friend network size) mediate the relationship between gender and either past-week or past-year physical activity. Multiple mediation analyses were conducted to determine the indirect effect of gender on physical activity through social networks. Among 205 participants, women (n = 129) were significantly less physically active (β = −73.82; p = 0.02) than men (n = 76) and reported significantly more Facebook friends (β = 0.30; p < 0.001) than men, which was inversely associated with past-week physical activity (β = −64.49; p = 0.03). Additionally, the indirect effect of gender on past-week physical activity through Facebook friends was significant (β = −19.13; 95% CI [−40.45, −2.09]). Findings suggest that social media sites such as Facebook could be used to encourage physical activity among women during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2495
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'The Association between Gender and Physical Activity Was Partially Mediated by Social Network Size during COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this