Impact of Social Support on the Physical Activity Behaviors of International College Students in the United States

Mohammed A. Alshehri, Aaron J. Kruse-Diehr, Justin McDaniel, Julie A. Partridge, Dawn Null

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research has suggested that international students’ transition to the United States is often correlated with less physical activity after arriving in the U.S). One reason might be related to reduced social support when living in a foreign environment. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to assess the impact of social support on international college students’ physical activity behaviors. Participants (N = 318) from five public universities in one Midwest state completed an electronic survey assessing self-reported physical activity behaviors and perceived social support for exercise (SSE). Data analyses included multiple linear regression, multinomial logistic regression, and multiple logistic regression to test the study’s hypotheses. Region of origin, academic level, and friends’ SSE were all significant predictors of unhealthy physical activity behaviors. Specifically, friends’ SSE was positively associated with higher total physical activity behaviors (F (12, 305) = 4.2, p < .001, R2 = .142) and was a significant predictor of participants’ physical activity levels. Although research suggests international students’ transition to the United States can impart negative impacts on their physical activity behaviors, we found that greater levels of friends’ SSE was associated with increased physical activity behaviors. As university administrators and wellness programs explore interventions promoting positive physical activity behaviors among international students, they should consider including elements that focus specifically on friendship social support to motivate physical activity behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1319
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Exercise Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Western Kentucky University. All rights reserved.


  • Exercise
  • fitness
  • foreign students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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