Purpose: The purpose of this research was to study the relationship among physical activity, self esteem, depression, and life satisfaction for youth in Hong Kong.
Methods: Participants (N = 291) were male and female students who took part in the Hong Kong Gymnastics for All Festival 2007. They were divided into two age groups: 6 to 10 years old (n = 147) and 10.5 to 20 years old (n = 144). The testing instruments consisted of the Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (Radloff, 1977), the Self-Anchoring Striving Scale (Cantril, 1965) and information on physical activity, perceived health status and stress level.
Analysis/Results: Based on the frequency of physical activity level, participants were divided into two physical activity (PA) groups: those who exercised for at least 20 minutes for more than 3 times per week (HPA) and those who exercised less than 2 times a week (LPA). Factorial 2 x 2 x 2 ANOVA revealed that the HPA group had significant (p < .05) higher self-esteem score than the LPA group (F1, 248 = 4.28, p = .04). However, the self esteem scores for males and females with different age groups were not significant (p > .05). On the other hand, no significant (p > .05) main effect was found in the mean depression scores among participants; but there was significant (p < .05) interaction effect on gender and age group (F1, 237 = 4.51, p = .035). Younger males had higher depression scores than older males, while the older females had higher depression scores than their male counterparts. The life satisfaction scores were higher for the HPA group than the LPA group (F1, 225 = 3.75, p = .05). The stress level of the males and females with different PA levels and ages were similar. The regression equation for life satisfaction was: 5.560 + .186(self-esteem) – .140(stress level) + .141(perceived health status) – .137(depression), and this explained 15% of the variance in life satisfaction (adjusted R² = . 147).
Conclusions: According to the participants, the motives for participation in gymnastics for all were as follows: to have fun/interest, to develop habit in doing PA, and to stay healthy. Since physical activity has positive influence on self esteem and life satisfaction, more programs and strategies should be designed to promote individuals to involve in PA.