Background: It is well known that lower physical fitness, exercise dislike and insufficient exercise in children are a serious problem for healthy growth and development of physical
and mental. In particular, self-esteem is essential in exercise and sports activities. However, there are also unclear points such as the relationship of exercise habit and/or lifestyle and
self-esteem in the growth and development period. Also, Self-esteem would be effect by growth and development in youth, and relative age effect (RAE) is an important issue in considering of
self-esteem etc. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between self-esteem and relative age effect and/ or regular exercise in the Japanese elementary school children.
Methods: This study was conducted among 3,680 children (1,805 boys, 1,875 girls), 4th-6th grade elementary school children (aged 9-12 years old), from 21 elementary schools in south
district in Miyagi, Japan. All participants were asked to fill out self-report measures of habitual of exercise and self-esteem questionnaire. Self-esteem was investigated using Self-esteem Scale
(Tokyo edition, 2011). This scale contains 22 items or phrases to measure individuals’ worth and attitudes toward a real emotion concerning each item on a four-point Likert's scale (absolutely agree,
agree, disagree, absolutely disagree) with scores of 1–4 and an average score of 1–4 points. Also, we evaluated three category of self-acceptance, that is, self-assertion and self-determination using
by this scale. To evaluate relative age effect (RAE), we compare to the self-esteem at each birth month of annual-age group. Furthermore, participants were divided into four groups for each grade and
gender from habitual of exercise questionnaire; high regular exercise (HE: more 3days/wk), middle regular exercise (ME: 1~2 days/wk), low regular exercise (LE: 1~3days/month), and no exercise (NE).
And we compared self-esteem with self-acceptance, self-assertion and self-determination among each groups.
Results: Self-esteem of 4th and 5th grade children was effect by RAE. That is, the self-esteem of early birth month children was higher than that of latter birth month children. On
the other hand, we could not find change in RAE of 6th grade children. Regardless of the gender, self-esteem of HE in each grade was higher than any other group. And, Self-acceptance, assertion and
determination also tended to be higher due to the frequency of exercise habits, respectively. Self-acceptance, assertion and determination of girl in each grade were higher than that of boy.
Self-esteem has become a low value with the upper grades.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that 1) RAE would be influence on self-esteem of youth, and 2) regular exercise would be enhanced and/or improved self-esteem in elementary school
children. In addition, puberty may be further complicate self-esteem in children of this age. Further studies needed to confirm whether relate to the physical fitness level and lifestyle and
self-esteem could be suggested as a new exercise intervention or clinical strategy for the health growth of children.