Active play network influences on physical activity among children living in south Texas colonias


Background and Objectives: Physical activity (PA) is beneficial for child health; however, few children meet PA guidelines. Social relationships impact child PA behaviors; however, little is known about this effect in Mexican-heritage populations. This study aims to understand associations between self-reported play networks and PA among Mexican-heritage children.

Methods: Mexican-heritage children from colonias along the Texas-Mexico border (n=41; 51.2% female; mean age=9.93 years, SD=1.01) reported information on up to five people they played with most often. Linear regression was used to analyze the relationship between composition of children’s social network and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) and sedentary minutes per day measured by accelerometers.

Results: Children who reported a higher percentage of friends as opposed to family members attained significantly more minutes of MVPA per day (β=-23.33, p=.02). Children who reported playing with individuals in their network more often (β=-47.08, p=.01) and whose networks contained a higher percentage of friends (β=-67.01, p=.02) were sedentary for fewer minutes per day.

Conclusions: Increasing the connections between children in the neighborhood or community, as well as increasing a child’s frequency of active play, may be promising approaches to increasing MVPA and decreasing sedentary behaviors among Mexican-heritage children.

Family & Community Health