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For Obese Teens Aerobic Fitness Provides Mental Health Benefits

Psychosocial functioning positively associated with changes in aerobic fitness but not body composition

THURSDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- An aerobic exercise program, consisting of stationary bike cycling to either music or an interactive video game, provides many psychological benefits for overweight and obese adolescents, according to a study published online Sept. 30 in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Gary S. Goldfield, Ph.D., from the University of Ottawa in Canada, and colleagues randomized 30 obese adolescents, aged 12 to 17 years, to twice-weekly, laboratory-based sessions of either stationary cycling to music or stationary cycling to an interactive video game over a 10-week trial.

The researchers found no differences between exercise groups over time. But when collapsed across exercise modality, significant pre-post improvements were seen for body image, perceived scholastic competence, and social competence. Psychosocial functioning was positively associated with changes in aerobic fitness but not body composition.

"Aerobic exercise was associated with improvements in body image, perceived academic performance, and social competence in obese adolescents, and these psychological benefits were related to improved aerobic fitness but not changes in body composition," the authors write.

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