Can't Get Your Kid to Lose Weight? Try Swimming

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

Dear Reggie,
My 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter are both overweight. Their doctor recommended I put them on an exercise routine and get them involved in sports. After showing them some exercises to do at home and trying to get them to play and walk more often, their weight does not seem to be going down. I signed them up in the after school sports camp where they play soccer, floor hockey and basketball. They both come home complaining that their joints hurt after playing these sports. Are they lying to me because they're not interested? Do you have any suggestions that can help my situation?

Mrs. Verroni

Hello Mrs. Verroni,
Your valiant efforts to help your kids must be commended. As I mention to all parents whose kids are overweight; aside from ensuring they are eating healthy foods in appropriate portions, you have to find a way to get your kids moving on a daily basis.

This always starts with finding a form of exercise they enjoy (and can participate in 2-4 days a week) and combining it with other forms of activity the rest of the week. Based on everything you mentioned, you are halfway there. Your children are completing a workout routine but, now you have to find an activity they enjoy.

Try Swimming

To answer your question, yes, many overweight kids have joint pain when they play sports. Their muscles are unable to support their weight as they jump, run, twist and turn. Their joints are exposed to excessive forces which over time can lead to muscle sprains or bone strains, killing any kids' motivation to keep on exercising. For children who experience joint pain, I recommend swimming. Kids love water and its buoyancy virtually eliminates all of the joint stress issues. There is no impact on their knees, hips or back and swimming burns a lot of calories. Your kids fitness level will skyrocket as the resistance of the water can help build strength in the shoulders, arms and legs. Their cardiovascular fitness will also improve as the buoyancy of the water enables them to swim continuous lengths for at least 20 – 30 minutes. Swimming for at least 30 – 45 minutes three to four days a week is sure to bring their weight down.

Final Thoughts

Swimming provides a great platform to build strength and cardiovascular fitness, at the same time. For overweight kids, it can represent a great introduction to getting fit and becoming active as it minimizes impact on the joints and muscles. In many cases, kids end up playing other sports afterwards as their improved cardiovascular fitness and stronger muscles are better able to handle the physical challenges of other sports.

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Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids
a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.