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Several manifestations of physical exercise providing health benefits for children and adolescents are evident in healthy and functional muscles and bones, increased strength and endurance, angiogenesis and neurogenesis, the reduced risk for chronic disease such as overweight and diabetes, improved self-esteem and psychological well-being, and finally higher levels of subjective and psychological well-being as well as reduced stress, anxiety and depression. Since obesity and being overweight impacts adversely on happiness, psychological well-being and several important positive personal attributes, most physical activity interventions, if properly designed and maintained appear to promise a satisfying degree of improvement. Physical exercise influences cognitive, emotional, learning and neurophysiological domains, both directly and indirect, thereby rendering it essential that this noninvasive, nonpharmacological intervention ought to form a part of children’s and adolescents’ long-term health programs.

Excess weight among children and adolescents is linked to emerging health hazards that include respiratory complications [9], cardiovascular risks [10], diabetes Type 2 [11], sleep problems (Daniels et al.) metabolic disorders [12], psychological health risks [13] and incapacity to exercise [14]. Nevertheless, even relatively modest and straightforward dietary improvements (i.e. fruit and vegetables) combined with exercise programs were discovered to induce marked and long-lasting effects [15]; certainly, parental support, modeling and encouragement, after-school and weekends, were important factors that provided for the notable progressions observed in physical activity [16]. In a Spanish study of 2,330 children aged 6-17 years, Gulias-Gonzalez et al. [17] found that being overweight and obesity were related to lower levels of physical fitness but those individuals in the underweight category did not perform worse than their normal weight peers on physical fitness. These observations imply that being overweight and obesity in children/adolescents pose a greater danger than being underweight, hence the importance of the study. In a crosssectional study of 11,743 pupils (4th grade to 8th grade, i.e. middle school), Rauner et al. [18] showed that weight status, as indexed by Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile was not a significant predictor of passing the Nebraska state accountability mathematics and reading test after including free/reduced lunch status. Aerobic fitness, nevertheless, was a significant predictor of academic performance. Reducing BMI held undoubted health benefits but only aerobic fitness endowered any real advantages with regard to academic prowess. Here, too the health benefits of exercise ought not necessarily to be equated with direct benefits in academic prowess despite the intrinsically-motivating utility of exercise in the cognitive, affective and behavioral domains Sebire et al. [19]. Similar observations were reported earlier [20].
It seems the case that obesity impacts adversely on happiness and psychological well-being. Nevertheless, after adjustment for health the obesity-unhappiness link is abolished although being overweight female participants were more likely to be unhappy [21]. Strong associations exist too between happiness and weight, regular physical exercise, exposure to 2nd-hand cigarette smoke, lower BMI, daily fruit/vegetables and how adolescents spend their leisure time [22,23] in a study of 8159 adolescent Iranian girls, observed that the adoption of regular physical exercise and other healthy behaviors promoted both better health and happiness. Wittberg et al. [24] studied the potential differences between children (N=1,725, 50.1% males) in academic achievement as a function of aerobic fitness over a 2-year, semi-longitudinal period. They reported that pupils who maintained themselves in the Healthy Fitness zone showed significantly higher scores in the WESTEST, a criterion-based academic performance assessment, than those pupils who stayed in the Needs Improvement zone. In a cross-sectional (at age 11) and longitudinal study that examined objectively-measured free-living physical activity and academic attainment in a cohort (United Kingdom) of 4,755 children and adolescents, Booth et al. [25] obtained a positive, long-term impact of moderate-vigorous intensity physical exercise on academic attainment; increased performance by both boys and girls was indicated at 16 years-of-age and increased science performance at 11 and 16 years. Thus, being obese and/or being overweight are very much a negative self-perception and exercise not only provides improvement but ensures a variety of other ‘bonuses’.

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