Exercise effects on quality of life, mood, and self-worth in overweight children: The SMART randomized controlled trial

Celestine F. Williams, Eduardo E. Bustamante, Jennifer L. Waller, Catherine L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Overweight children are at risk for poor quality of life (QOL), depression, self-worth, and behavior problems. Exercise trials with children have shown improved mood and self-worth. Few studies utilized an attention control condition, QOL outcomes, or a follow-up evaluation after the intervention ends. The purpose is to test effects of an exercise program versus sedentary program on psychological factors in overweight children. One hundred seventy-five overweight children (87% black, 61% female, age 9.7 ± 0.9 years, 73% obese) were randomized to an 8 month aerobic exercise or sedentary after-school program. Depressive symptoms, anger expression, self-worth, and QOL were measured at baseline and post-Test. Depressive symptoms and QOL were also measured at follow-up. Intentto-treat mixed models evaluated intervention effects, including sex differences. At post-Test, QOL, depression, and self-worth improved; no group by time or sex by group by time interaction was detected for QOL or self-worth. Boys' depressive symptoms improved more and anger control decreased in the sedentary intervention relative to the exercise intervention at post-Test. At follow-up, depressive symptoms in boys in the sedentary group decreased more than other groups. Exercise provided benefits to QOL, depressive symptoms, and self-worth comparable to a sedentary program. Sedentary programs with games and artistic activities, interaction with adults and peers, and behavioral structure may be more beneficial to boys' mood than exercise. Some benefits of exercise in prior studies are probably attributable to program elements such as attention from adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-459
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 16 2019


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Anger
  • Black
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Exercise effects on quality of life, mood, and self-worth in overweight children: The SMART randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this