The impacts of exercise on pediatric obesity

Ronald J. Headid, Song Young Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Over the last few decades, the rates of pediatric obesity have more than doubled regardless of sociodemographic categorization, and despite these rates plateauing in recent years there continues to be an increase in the severity of obesity in children and adolescents. This review will discuss the pediatric obesity mediated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors such as attenuated levels of satiety and energy metabolism hormones, insulin resistance, vascular endothelial dysfunction, and arterial stiffness. Additionally, early intervention to combat pediatric obesity is critical as obesity has been suggested to track into adulthood, and these obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of early mortality. Current suggested strategies to combat pediatric obesity are modifying diet, limiting sedentary behavior, and increasing physical activity. The effects of exercise intervention on metabolic hormones such as leptin and adiponectin, insulin sensitivity/resistance, and body fat in obese children and adolescents will be discussed along with the exercise modality, intensity, and duration. Specifically, this review will focus on the differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and combined exercise on the cardiovascular risks in pediatric obesity. This review outlines the evidence that exercise intervention is a beneficial therapeutic strategy to reduce the risk factors for CVD and the ideal exercise prescription to combat pediatric obesity should contain both muscle strengthening and aerobic components with an emphasis on fat mass reduction and long-term adherence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-207
Number of pages12
JournalClinical and Experimental Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Exercise
  • Metabolic disease
  • Pediatric obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pediatrics


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