The effects of 35 weeks of extra-curricular, mainly aerobic, dynamic physical activity were analysed in overweight and obese 7-year-old boys contrasted with control groups. Body composition was estimated by using the body mass index (BMI) and skinfold thicknesses. Overweight or obesity was defined according to the suggestions of Cole and associates (2000). The activity program consisted of swimming and water games, folk dance, and soccer. Data were collected four times between September 2003 and October 2004. Thirty-one overweight or obese boys volunteered to participate in the activity program (weekly, two physical education classes of 45 min. plus three extra-curricular activity sessions of 60 min. duration). The control subjects were 43 overweight or obese boys, and 75 non-overweight and non-obese ones. The controls had only two curricular physical education classes every week. Physical performance capacity was tested by a 30 m dash, 400 m run, standing long jump, and fist-ball throw. Body fat content estimated by taking the sum of five skinfolds decreased significantly during the 35-week training program. However, body weight as well as skinfold thicknesses increased significantly during the four-month non-active period that followed. Physical performance improved during the test period, but deteriorated between the third and fourth data collections. BMI, as well as the sum of five skinfolds increased in both control groups. Physical performance decreased in the overweight control subjects and increased moderately in the non-obese ones. We inferred that more vigorous habitual exercise alone, i.e., without a program of dietary control, though effective, could not efficiently stabilise body fat, still less achieve a lasting reduction of it. Obese, but also overweight subjects need long-term exercise programs of sufficient intensity, duration, and frequency, plus dietary measures, to get rid of excess body fat.
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