Exercise as it relates to Disease/Physical Activity and the Psychosocial Benefits in Young Children

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This is article was written entirely in the context of one article [1] and as a result only relates to strategies to increase physical activity for health in a specific population.

What is the background to this research[edit]

As individuals get older the time spent on being inactive increases. As the number of obese individual’s increases, so does the susceptibility to depression and low self-esteem.[2] In addition, with the growing number of young children being classed as overweight or obese, there is mounting evidence to suggest that there is a positive association between physical activity and psychological well-being, less depression and enhanced cognitive function.[3] Good self-esteem is important in/to all children, and obese children in particular are at risk of having poor self-esteem and being rejected by their peers.[1] Therefore, understanding the factors associated to increased physical inactivity in children is vital for preventing and treating childhood obesity.

Strauss et al. conducted a study to describe the social and cognitive factors linked with physical activity in children from ten to sixteen years old. Additionally, was to determine the relationship between sedentary behaviour and physical activity and the relationship between self-esteem of adolescents and physical activity.[1]

Where is the research from[edit]

92 children were recruited from the suburban and urban families through the paediatrics clinics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick.[1]

What kind of research was this[edit]

This was a cross-sectional study, involving the use of questionnaires to collect data from both children and parents.

What did the research involve[edit]

Ninety-two children aged ten to sixteen, forty-four boys and forty-eight girls from suburban and urban families were monitored for one week with a motion detector. The children completed a questionnaire to measure psycho-social behaviour (self-efficacy, social influences and health beliefs). Parents completed questionnaires about the amount of time each child spent on sedentary activities. The children were from different family backgrounds and ethnicities.

What were the basic results[edit]

In this study, Strauss et al.[1] found that there was a significant decline in physical activity levels between the ages ten and sixteen, in particularly girls. Furthermore, multivariate regression analysis showed that only age and sedentary behaviour time independently correlated with moderate activity levels, but time spent in high-level activity correlated with self-efficacy scores and social influences. However, the time spent in sedentary was not correlated with high physical activity levels. Moreover, high levels of physical activity was associated with improved self-esteem results. Overall, children with increased levels of self-confidence or self-efficacy, are greatly more likely to have increased levels of high activity compared with children with low levels of self-efficacy.

What conclusions can be taken from this research?[edit]

It is clear that obesity can have a major influence on how children feel about themselves and how they socialise with others. In addition, obese adolescents are more likely to have low self-esteem, which may have an effect on the other areas of their lives.[4] With an increase in technological advancements, busy lifestyle, in sedentary behaviour and an early exposure to technology, childhood obesity is rapidly increasing. However, through team sports in particular, children are able to further develop their psychological and social health and therefore decrease sedentary behaviour and decrease the number of children suffering from childhood obesity.[5] Furthermore, the link between physical activity and psychological benefits is quite strong as participation in sport can help to build one's self-confidence, social interaction and self-expression, just to name a few.[6] It is not yet clear what type of exercise is best, but studies have shown that the link between physical activity and self-concept was more distinctive when aerobic exercises were prescribed.[7] In addition, self-efficacy strongly correlated with high levels of activity in children whom self-reported levels of physical activity.

What implications does this research have?[edit]

The data obtained on psychosocial behaviour was all based on self-report data. Meaning that people tend to over estimate physical activity levels. Although physical activity, in particular team sport participation is seen as leisure time and social time for children, families need to sacrifice some money for children to participate in these events as they can be costly. Families with a low-socioeconomic status may want to take this into consideration as it requires large commitment through time and money.

Further Readings[edit]

For more information regarding the benefits and impacts of physical activity and inactivity has on psycho-social health; follow the links below:



  1. a b c d e Strauss. R, Rodzilsky. D, Burack. G, Colin. M. Psychosocial Correlates of Physical Activity in Health Children. JAMA Pediatrics. 155(8): 897-902 Available from: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=190944#tab6>
  2. Gatineau. M, Dent. M. National Obesity Observatory Website [Internet]. United Kingdom: NOO; 2011 [cited 2016 Sep 6]. Available from: http://www.noo.org.uk/uploads/doc/vid_10266_Obesity%20and%20mental%20health_FINAL_070311_MG.pdf>
  3. The British Psychological Society. Behaviour change: physical (in)activity). 2014; Available from: http://www.bps.org.uk/system/files/Public files/physical_activity.pdf>
  4. Obesity in Children – Causes. Better Health Channel Website [Internet]. Victoria: Better Health Vic; 2016 [cited 2016 Sep 7]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/obesity-in-children-causes
  5. Eime RM, et al. A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: Informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act [Internet]. 2013;10:98–119. Available from: http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/10/1/98
  6. World Health Organisation 2010. Global Strategy on diet, Physical Activity and Health. Available from: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_young_people/en/
  7. Nieman P. Psychosocial aspects of physical activity. Paediatr Child Heal. 2002;7(5):309–12.