Aquatic activity recommended for overweight children


Dr Mostafa Yaghoubi from the School of Health Sciences at his recent graduation in Wellington.


New research from Dr Mostafa Yaghoubi from Massey University’s School of Health Sciences, shows aquatic exercise could be key to allowing overweight children to complete physical activity, more effectively and with less chance of injury. 

Children carrying excess weight have difficulty performing exercises such as walking and running over ground.

Previous research suggests overweight children adapt their gait (manner of walking) to make it easier to move, but very little research has investigated the biomechanics of stationary exercises.

Dr Yaghoubi, who graduated with his Doctor of Philosophy in Wellington last week, says these stationary exercises could support the development of adapted weight management interventions.

 “Stationary exercises could improve lower extremity muscle strength and endurance in overweight children to provide greater stability and propulsion during land-based stationary exercises, but the mode and intensity needs to be considered," he says.

“I was intrigued to see that when completing stationary exercise on land, overweight children showed different movement patterns, and increased exertion than normal-weight children, meaning they were at more risk of injury or giving up because the activity was too hard.

"However, the kinematic and physiological differences didn’t exist in water between normal weight and overweight children,” Dr Yaghoubi says.

 “This means that aquatic-based stationary exercises could be a desirable way to reduce functional differences and promote physical activity in overweight children. In addition, overweight children experience a lower hydrostatic weight in water than normal weight children, due to the density properties of excess fat. Thus, aquatic exercise could provide an effective and less injurious alternative to on-the-ground activities for weight loss and general improvement of physical conditioning and enjoyment in children of varying body size.”

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Mashhad, Iran, has lived in Wellington since 2013 and has worked at Massey University since 2016. As well as his PhD in Sport Biomechanics, Dr Yaghoubi also holds a Master’s of Physical Education and Sport Sciences from the Azad University, Iran, and a Bachelor of Physical Education and Sport Sciences from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.

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