Physical activity participation (PAP) has been proven to improve health and promote optimal growth among adolescents. However, most adolescents do not meet the current physical activity (PA) recommendations in Turkey. The role of the social environment and social factors on PAP is being increasingly recognized. Although social capital (SC) indicators have been examined in high-income countries, there are few studies on developing countries. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between SC indicators and PAP among Turkish adolescents.
A survey was conducted among 19 high schools in 4 different cities in Turkey in 2016. A total of 506 female and 729 male high school students participated in this study. The dependent variable was overall PAP, which was measured using the short form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. The independent variables included self-perceived family, neighborhood, and school SC. Self-rated health and obesity status, measured by body mass index, were other study covariates in multiple binary logistic regression models. Chi-square tests were used to assess the differences between genders.
PAP levels were significantly different between males and females. A higher percentage of males reported PAP (77.4%) compared to females (51.0%). Among males, teacher–student interpersonal trust and informal social control were inversely associated with PAP, while high students interpersonal trust was positively associated with increased odds of PAP. For females, students interpersonal trust was inversely associated with PAP.
Various SC indicators are associated with PAP for males and females. These associations are different from findings of studies conducted in developed countries. Therefore, health-promotion interventions and policies should consider gender and different social agents on the social and cultural background to improve PAP among Turkish adolescents.