Aerobic physical activity effects on psychological well-being in low-income Hispanic children

Percept Mot Skills. 2004 Feb;98(1):319-24. doi: 10.2466/pms.98.1.319-324.


Psychological well-being has been generally associated with vigorous aerobic activity and structured aerobic activity in adolescents and children. Low-income children are at greater risk than the general population for experiencing high environmental stress and increased mental health problems. This study investigated the effects of a structured physical fitness program on psychological well-being in low-income Hispanic children. A total of 66, 33 girls, 33 boys, in Grade 4 were randomly assigned to either an Aerobic intensity (n = 34) or a Control intensity physical activity program (n = 32) for 6 wk. Psychological well-being was defined as scores on trait anxiety, depression, and self-esteem, measured, respectively, by the Trait Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, and Rosenberg Self-esteem scale. Analysis showed the children in the Aerobic intensity program significantly (p < .05) improved their cardiovascular fitness as measured by the PWC170 test. After the program was over, the children in this Aerobic group reported significantly (p < .05) less depression. The main effect for self-esteem reflected the Aerobic group's greater self-reported self-esteem. No differences were found on trait anxiety. The effects on depression and self-esteem may only be attributed to the cardiovascular improvement given the higher intensity physical activity program because causation was not assessed here.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Self Concept
  • Socioeconomic Factors