Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type



Exercise Science

Director of Thesis

Dr. Andrew Ortaglia

Second Reader

Melissa Stansbury M.S.


Childhood obesity is a long-standing epidemic in the United States as of 2020, and the problem is continuing to worsen. Childhood obesity has been shown to have many unhealthy effects, such as increasing prevalence of cardiovascular disease, depression, and social anxiety, which all can contribute to a worsened quality of life. Research suggests that summer is the most critical time period to combat childhood obesity is because children’s lives are less structured over the summer, which can lead to increased unhealthy behaviors, obesity, and a decrease in quality of life. The current study, the Skybrook Swim Team Study, aimed to combat obesity, as well as increase quality of life for children and adolescents. In order to achieve this, swimmers from a nine-week community-centered, structured exercise program based on competitive swimming were surveyed at the beginning and end of the season. Differences between the survey scores were examined to gain insight into swimmers’ perceived changes associated with Physical Fitness, Sense of Community, Self-Confidence, Health, and Happiness. Children and adolescents were allocated to one of six groups (9-10 Males), (11-12 Males), (13-18 Males), (9-10 Females), (11-12 Females), and (13-18 Females) in order to gain knowledge on how age and gender affect the perceived benefits obtained by participating in a community-based, structured exercise program. All six groups significantly increased their overall quality of life score. Females tended to have a larger increase in the measure of Happiness, while males showed a larger increase in the measures of Physical Fitness and Health. On average, the 9-10-year olds obtained the most benefit from the program in terms of improved quality of life, while the 13-18-year-old males showed the least improvement. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that children and adolescents can improve their quality of life through a community-oriented, structured exercise program; however, a child’s age and sex may predispose them to obtaining different perceived benefits within the various dimensions of quality of life.

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