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Acta Paediatr. 2005 Dec;94(12):1791-7.

The relationship between children's habitual activity level and psychological well-being.

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  • 1Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, School of Sport and Health Sciences, St. Luke's Campus, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom.



To explore the relationship between habitual physical activity and psychological well-being in children.


Seventy children (35 boys, 35 girls), age 10.4+/-0.4 y, wore hip pedometers over a period of 7 d. Well-being was conceptualized as the presence of global self-esteem and the absence of anxiety and depression and assessed with the use of three questionnaires.


Correlation analyses revealed that habitual physical activity had a strong association with global self-esteem (r=0.66), depression (r=-0.60) and anxiety (r=-0.48). However, using partial correlations, the significant relationships were removed for anxiety and depression, but remained for self-esteem (r=0.36). When groups were created based upon activity level, children achieving >12,000 steps/day had more positive psychological profiles than children achieving <9,200 steps/day.


The results support the findings from previous studies that have explored the relationship between physical activity and well-being, but represent the first to use a mechanical measure of physical activity over a 7-d period to assess the relationships. The actual step counts associated with more positive psychological well-being can be shown to be in line with the recommended guidelines that children accumulate a minimum of 60 min of moderate-intensity activity per day.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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