Background: The role of social support in physical exercise is well documented. However, the majority of studies that investigate the associations between social support and physical exercise target perceived instead of received social support. Moreover, most studies investigate the effects of received social support using a descriptive correlational design. Thus, our study aimed at investigating the effects of received social support by conducting an intervention study.
Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 118) or control group (n = 102). The intervention comprised regularly exercising with a new sports companion for eight weeks. To investigate the time course of physical exercise and received social support, growth curve modelling was employed.
Results: Generally, both groups were able to improve their physical exercise. However, the control group tended to decrease again during the final point of measurement. Received social support, however, decreased slightly in the control group, but remained stable in the intervention group.
Conclusions: The intervention was suitable to sustain received social support for physical exercise across a two-month interval. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of further investigating social support for physical exercise applying an experimental approach.