WASHINGTON -- For college men, exercise works on the buddy system: If their friends exercise, they do, a study says.
This was not true for women, who relied more on support from their families. And a researcher thinks college women do less exercise than men do because the female buddy system isn't as strong as the men's.
Men benefit from a physical activity snowball effect, said researcher Lorraine Silver Wallace. "Because males are more active themselves, their friends are more likely to be active," she said. "They have more social support. There are more of them doing it."
But with fewer college women exercising, the snowball doesn't grow as much, Wallace said: "They didn't have as much social support."
Wallace and her colleagues surveyed students at Ohio State University, where she received her doctorate before taking her current position as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Tyler. The results were published in the journal Preventive Medicine.
The study looked at questionnaire responses from 937 randomly selected Ohio State students. The students' exercise patterns were fairly similar to those in national surveys, said co-researcher Janet Buckworth of Ohio State. Thirty-nine percent of Ohio State men reported exercising at least three days a week for 20 minutes at a time over the previous six months. In comparison, 26 percent of women did.
The study was an attempt to get a handle on what motivates young adults to exercise.
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