Exercise Effects on Depressive Symptoms and Self-Worth in Overweight Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial*


Oxford University Press


Objective To test the dose–response effects of an exercise program on depressive symptoms and self-worth in children. Method Overweight, sedentary children (N = 207, 7–11 years, 58% male, 59% Black) were randomly assigned to low or high dose (20 or 40 min/day) aerobic exercise programs (13 ± 1.6 weeks), or control group. Children completed the Reynolds Child Depression Scale and Self-Perception Profile for Children at baseline and posttest. Results A dose–response benefit of exercise was detected for depressive symptoms. A race × group interaction showed only White children's global self-worth (GSW) improved. There was some evidence that increased self-worth mediated the effect on depressive symptoms. Conclusions This study shows dose–response benefits of exercise on depressive symptoms and self-worth in children. However, Blacks did not show increased GSW in response to the intervention. Results provide some support for mediation of the effect of exercise on depressive symptoms via self-worth.

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