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Regular exercise reduces depressive symptoms, improves self-esteem in overweight children
Date:3/18/2009

and reduces anger expression. "This adds to the evidence that exercise is great for people of all ages, physically and mentally," Dr. Davis says of the latest finding. "Our physical and mental well being are intimately interwoven."

One exception was that even a longer daily exercise regimen did not impact the general self esteem of black adolescents although it did improve their depressive symptoms and how they felt about how their appearance. The researchers noted previous evidence that the black culture is more accepting of obesity. Their study, one of a few to test race as a moderator of psychological risk in overweight children, appears to support that. However a better way to measure self esteem in blacks also may be needed, say the researchers who call for more study on race's influence on the psychosocial consequences of obesity and exercise.

For this study, children filled out the Self-Perception Profile for Children and the Reynolds Child Depression Scale reports before and after the13-week period. "We asked them about feelings of sadness, how they sleep most don't sleep well when depressed and their appetite some eat more, others less when depressed," Dr. Petty says. As with most children, most of the study participants had some symptoms associated with clinical depression but few would be given a diagnosis of clinical depression.

There's some irony in that depression and low self esteem may decrease the chance you'll feel like moving yet moving decreases depressive symptoms. Dr. Petty, a runner, experiences that herself. "Even if it's hard and I don't want to go, 15 or 20 minutes after I do, I feel so good I could go for another run."

Acknowledging running isn't for everyone, she suggests a more festive family affair that could include a walk in a park or around the neighborhood, a game of pickup basketball or tennis. Peer group activities may work better for some children, she says, such as study participants wh
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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