Social networks, group exercise, and anxiety among college students


Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between group exercise membership, social network characteristics, and general state anxiety in a sample of college students. Participants: 490 undergraduates from a private university in the southern US participated in the study. Methods: An egocentric network analysis was conducted to test whether demographic variables, leisure-time physical activity, group exercise membership, flourishing scores, and network variables were related to anxiety. Results: Regression analyses (R2= .174, F=7.650, p<.0001) suggest group exercise membership (β=-.105, p=.034) and flourishing scores (β=-.342, p<.0001) were related to lower anxiety scores, while being a racial/ethnic minority (β=.094, p=.036), and having personal networks composed of more people who exercise often (β=.100, p=.025), were related to higher anxiety scores in this sample. Conclusions: Findings suggest a connection between group exercise membership, activity habits of peers, and anxiety. Encouraging group exercise participation could be an effective way of combating anxiety for college students.

Journal of American College Health