When I was five, my dad liked to have my sister and me hang onto opposite ends of a two-by-four and see how many times he could lift us up off the ground. He called us his “little dumbbells,” and nothing could have been more appropriate! My dad’s passion for fitness really rubbed off on me. To this day, I take great pride in being active and staying in good shape – and hopefully I’m setting a good example for my own kids.
Today, most children get less physical activity than they should. (I know from personal experience that spontaneous outdoor play is often replaced with playing video games and surfing the Web.) Physical education at many schools is being cut due to budget constraints. And today’s kids tend to be driven almost everywhere instead of walking or riding their bikes. The result? In the past thirty years, childhood obesity has more than doubled (and it has tripled among adolescents). Plus, being active is fun and I worry kids are missing out!
I think adults, especially adults living with diabetes, may be missing out as well. It’s not just the younger generation; most adults don’t get enough exercise either! I tell people of all ages how important activity is, especially for those of us who live with diabetes (I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for years). It may help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. And it can make you feel good! The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults living with type 2 diabetes perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity without skipping more than a day between workouts, as well as strength training exercises at least twice per week.
And then, of course, there’s reality. As a father of four and a small business owner, I know how busy life can be. Often, you have to make a choice between getting in a workout and spending time with the family. So why not put the two together? Involving your kids in your workouts serves a number of purposes: it helps you to stay in shape, gets them some much-needed exercise, and gives you a chance to spend some quality time together. Another bonus of exercising with your kids is that, unlike many kids’ activities, the time you spend together need not cost a dime.
- Put on some music and dance the night away! Pick dance tunes that you grew up with, and maybe a few modern ones that they like. Swing them around, jump up and down, make up your own moves, and have a ball.
- Go on a bike outing together. Tour the local neighborhood or find a nature trail to explore.
- Play some basketball on the driveway or soccer in the backyard.
- Roll on the river – take an afternoon to go canoeing, kayaking, or rowing with the whole crew. You can even rent “paddle boats” if you don’t mind doing most of the pedaling!
- If you have “little” little ones, get a jogging stroller or bike trailer so that they can join you in the fresh air. Toting the kids can definitely add to the intensity of your activity.
- Go to the park. It sounds cliché, but there are lots of fun things to do there: flying kites, playing baseball, climbing in the playground equipment, playing catch, or throwing a Frisbee®1 around.
- Take a “discovery hike” at a pond, river, or wooded trail.
- Make your own weight-lifting equipment out of bottles and cans, and do some strength training with the kids. Be sure to put on motivational music to help everyone get “pumped up.”
- Play games in a pool at your local Y or community center.
- Challenge your kids to Wii Fit2 games or a movement-oriented program like Dance Dance Revolution™3.
This season, make a point of exercising with your kids at least a couple of times each week…if not more often if you can. Who knows? Your little dumbbells just might grow up to be Olympians!
Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE*, is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Masters-Level Exercise Physiologist who has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than twenty-eight years. He was named 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and has written six books, including Think Like A Pancreas. Scheiner and his clinical staff provide diabetes management consultations worldwide via phone and the Internet through his practice, Integrated Diabetes Services. Scheiner is a paid contributor for The DX. All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the contributor, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.
1Frisbee® is a Registered Trademark of ©2004 Whamo-o Inc. All Rights Reserved.
2Will Fit is a trademark of Nintendo.
2Dance Dance Revolution™ is a trademark of Konami Corporation.
© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience