Table 3

Reviews of physical activity and self-esteem in young people

Author, date and years coveredType of review; number of studies (K)Sample for current analysesExposure VariablesTypes of research designMain findingsComments
Ekeland et al18 1965–2002Meta-analysis K=253–20 yearsPA > 4 weeksRCTs8 trials available for meta-analysis.
Exercise alone intervention versus a no-intervention control showed small-to-moderate effect in favour of the intervention group (SMD = 0.49).
25 trials found but only 8 subjected to meta-analysis.
Calfas and Taylor7 Up to 1982Meta-analysis and systematic review K=2011–21 yearsPA: flexibility training; running; vigorous activityQuasi-experimental and cross-sectional observation3 trials available for meta-analysis.
There was a significant positive relationship between PA and psychological outcomes - ie, increased self-esteem; effect size was 0.12.
Only 3 trials subjected to meta-analysis.
Unclear distinction between self-esteem and self-concept as outcome variables.
Gruber19 Dates covered not statedMeta-analysis K=27<18 yearsPA: aerobic; PE activities; perceptual motor; danceExperimental and quasi-experimentalExercise significantly associated with higher self-esteem among children (ES=0.41).
Exercise had larger effects for children with a disability (ES=0.57) and for aerobic fitness activities (ES=0.89).
Report lacked detail on search strategies and methods.
  • ES, effect size; PA, physical activity; PE, physical education.