Social influences on physical activity for establishing criteria leading to exercise persistence

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Despite well-documented health benefits from exercise, a study on national trends in achieving the recommended minutes of physical activity guidelines has not improved since the guidelines were published in 2008. Peer interactions have been identified as a critical factor for increasing a population’s physical activity. The objective of this study is for establishing criteria for social influences on physical activity for establishing criteria that lead to exercise persistence. A system of differential equations was developed that projects exercise trends over time. The system includes both social and non-social influences that impact changes in physical activity habits and establishes quantitative conditions that delineate population-wide persistence habits from domination of sedentary behavior. The model was generally designed with parameter values that can be estimated to data. Complete absence of social or peer influences resulted in long-term dominance of sedentary behavior and a decline of physically active populations. Social interactions between sedentary and moderately active populations were the most important social parameter that influenced low active populations to become and remain physically active. On the other hand, social interactions encouraging moderately active individuals to become sedentary drove exercise persistence to extinction. Communities should focus on increasing social interactions between sedentary and moderately active individuals to draw sedentary populations to become more active. Additionally, reducing opportunities for moderately active individuals to engage with sedentary individuals through sedentary social activities should be addressed.

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