Child Indicators Research

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1935–1949 | Cite as

Physical Exercise Predicts Social Competence and General Well-Being in Chinese Children 10 to 15 Years Old: a Preliminary Study

  • Jinlong Su
  • Zhen Wu
  • Yanjie SuEmail author


Studies have confirmed a variety of physical and psychological benefits of physical exercise in children, but it remains unclear if there is a relation between physical exercise and children’s social competence. Considering that social interactions are often involved when children do physical exercise, we speculated that physical exercise might predict children’s social competence, as well as general well-being. In the current study, we aimed to examine this possibility with the statistics of a nationally representative sample of China (n = 3459, age range = 10–15 yrs). Data on children’s self-reported physical exercise frequency, social competence and general well-being were collected. The results showed that: (a) physical exercise positively predicted the number of good friends, friendship intimacy and social skills in children; (b) the relation between physical exercise and the number of good friends was moderated by age, such that physical exercise played a less important role as age increased; (c) physical exercise was positively related to children’s general well-being and the relation was mediated by children’s social competence. We concluded that physical exercise might relate to improved social competence and general well-being of 10–15 years old Chinese children.


Physical exercise Social competence General well-being Children 



We are grateful to the Institute of Social Science Survey, Peking University for providing the data.

Author Contributions

JS and YS proposed the concept and designed the study; JS performed the acquisition and analysis of the data; JS, YS, ZW performed the interpretation of the data. JS drafted the study; YS and ZW revised the study for important intellectual content. All the authors approved the version to be published and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriate investigated and resolved.


This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 31371040, 31571134).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

We declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences and Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental HealthPeking UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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