Affective Responses to Intermittent Physical Activity in Healthy Weight and Overweight/Obese Elementary School-Age Children

J Phys Act Health. 2017 Nov 1;14(11):845-851. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2016-0552. Epub 2017 Oct 6.


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of intermittent physical activity (2-min bouts of varying intensities) on psychological mood and enjoyment in elementary school-age children and to examine the effect of weight status on these psychological outcomes.

Methods: A total of 39 children (healthy weight, n = 26; overweight/obese, n = 13) completed 4 experimental conditions in random order, which consisted of 8 hours of sitting interrupted with 20 two-minute low--, moderate-, or high-intensity activity breaks or 20 two-minute screen-time breaks. Mood was assessed using the Feeling Scale immediately following each break. Enjoyment was assessed using the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale immediately following 10 and 20 breaks.

Results: Mood was significantly higher during the sedentary versus active conditions (P < .01). Overweight/obese children reported lower mood scores compared with healthy weight children at the initiation of the low- (P < .05) and high-intensity conditions (P < .001) but experienced improvements in mood throughout the day in all 3 active conditions (P = .02). Enjoyment was significantly higher after completing the active versus sedentary conditions (P = .02).

Conclusion: These findings suggest that both healthy weight and overweight/obese children felt better immediately after engaging in screen-time breaks but subsequently rated the activity breaks as more enjoyable compared with screen-time breaks.

Trial registration: NCT02831309.

Keywords: exercise psychology; obesity; pediatrics; sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / physiopathology*

Associated data