Objective: To determine the effects of aerobic training, resistance training, and combined training on mood, body image, and self-esteem in adolescents with obesity.
Method: After a 4-week prerandomization treatment, 304 postpubertal adolescents (91 males, 213 females) with obesity ages 14-18 years were randomized to 1 of 4 groups for 22 weeks: aerobic training (n = 75), resistance training (n = 78), combined aerobic and resistance training (n = 75), or nonexercising control (n = 76). All participants received dietary counseling, with a daily energy deficit of 250 kcal. Mood was measured using the Brunel Mood Scale. Body image was assessed using the Multiple Body Self-Relations Questionnaire, and physical self-perceptions and global self-esteem were measured using the Harter Physical Self-Perceptions Questionnaire.
Results: Median adherence was 62%, 56%, and 64% in aerobic, resistance, and combined training, respectively. Resistance and combined training produced greater improvements than control on vigor, and resistance training reduced depressive symptoms. All groups improved on body image and physical self-perceptions, but combined showed greater increases than control on perceived physical conditioning, while only resistance training showed greater increases than controls on global self-esteem. Both combined and resistance training demonstrated greater increases in perceived strength than control. Psychological benefits were more related to better adherence and reductions in body fat than changes in strength or fitness.
Conclusion: Resistance training, alone or in combination with aerobic training, may provide psychological benefits in adolescents with overweight or obesity, and therefore could be an alternative to aerobic training for some individuals in the biological and psychological management of adolescent obesity.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute