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Social cohesion emerging from a community-based physical activity program: A temporal network analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2020

Ana María Jaramillo
Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (e-mails:, Social and Health Complexity Center, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia Department of Computer Science, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
Felipe Montes
Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (e-mails:, Social and Health Complexity Center, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Olga L. Sarmiento
School of Medicine, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (e-mails:,
Ana Paola Ríos
School of Medicine, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (e-mails:, Grupo de Cuidado Cardiorrespiratorio, Universidad Manuela Beltrán, Bogotá
Lisa G. Rosas
Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, USA and Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA (e-mail:
Ruth F. Hunter
United Kingdom Clinical Research Collaboration Centre of Excellence for Public Health/Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK (e-mail:
Ana Lucía Rodríguez
Department of Psychology, Health Disparities and Cultural Identities Research Lab, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA (e-mail:
Abby C. King
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, and Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, 259 Campus Drive, Redwood Building, Stanford, CA 94305-5405. (e-mail:
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Community-based physical activity programs, such as the Recreovía, are effective in promoting healthy behaviors in Latin America. To understand Recreovías’ challenges and scalability, we characterized its social network longitudinally while studying its participants’ social cohesion and interactions. First, we constructed the Main network of the program’s Facebook profile in 2013 to determine the main stakeholders and communities of participants. Second, we studied the Temporal network growth of the Facebook profiles of three Recreovía locations from 2008 to 2016. We implemented a Time Windows in Networks algorithm to determine observation periods and a scaling model of cities’ growth to measure social cohesion over time. Our results show physical activity instructors as the main stakeholders (20.84% nodes of the network). As emerging cohesion, we found: (1) incremental growth of Facebook users (43–272 nodes), friendships (55–2565 edges), clustering coefficient (0.19–0.21), and density (0.04–0.07); (2) no preferential attachment behavior; and (3) a social cohesion super-linear growth with 1.73 new friendships per joined user. Our results underscore the physical activity instructors’ influence and the emergent cohesion in innovation periods as a co-benefit of the program. This analysis associates the social and healthy behavior dimensions of a program occurring in natural environments under a systemic approach.

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© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press


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