Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a leading cause of death in the Western world. Although the benefits of exercise as a health behavior are widely known, the majority of CHD patients fail to adhere to an exercise program. The availability of social networks has been shown to be related to health behaviors; however, the impact that social networks have on CHD patient exercise involvement is not well understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the role social networks, defined as the number and source of people patients lived with, plays on exercise involvement in CHD patients.
A total of 756 cardiac outpatients (236 women and 520 men) were recruited. Presence, source, and size of patient social networks and exercise (total leisure-time physical activity) were assessed via a questionnaire.
There was no difference in exercise involvement, as measured in metabolic equivalents of task hours per week, between those patients living with at least 1 other person and those people who lived alone (M = 7.53, SD = 0.50, and M = 8.49, SD = 1.07, respectively; F = 0.65, P = .422). However, there was a significant difference between patients who currently lived with a child compared with those who did not live with a child (F = 6.98, P = .008). Patients with children engaged in less exercise than those who did not live with a child (M = 5.41; SD = 0.97 vs M = 8.46; SD = 0.53).
Considering that only living with children, rather than living with any other individual, seemed to affect patient exercise involvement, further research is needed to investigate the social mechanisms underlying this relationship.