Helping children stay healthy and active is a group effort, and by group, I mean family. When I think about planning activities that will help our family stay fit, I think of the example I learned from my own family growing up. My mom and dad constantly encouraged us to be active and to spend a lot of time outdoors. We were always riding bikes, hiking, taking long walks, swimming, waterskiing, gardening, roller skating, playing at the park, and generally just running around the neighborhood. As a mom of lots of active kids, I have done my best to turn many of those good examples into new family traditions.
And even though my kids have enjoyed indoor activities like karate, basketball, dance and gymnastics, I find that in order for our whole family to participate in fitness together, it’s easier for us to go outdoors to find activities that we all enjoy.
When we went camping in Yosemite National Park last summer, we brought bikes for everyone in the family. We had a wonderful time riding around the campground and on trails throughout the park. Since then, the kids cannot get enough of riding their bikes. Sometimes we’ll ride to the park or around the neighborhood, but most often, they’ll just go out on our street and ride around the cul-de-sac. It’s a really nice way to get them to spend more time outside rather than sitting in front of the TV.
Another activity that we can all do as a family is hiking. We live within walking distance of at least four different trailheads! My kids love to pack snacks and go out walking to see where we end up. Sometimes we go out on a small hike only to end up on a long hike because we’re having too much fun figuring out where the trail will take us. As long as I pack all the necessary diabetes supplies, we can be out as long as we like.
During the summertime our favorite outdoor activity is swimming (we’re in the pool just about every day between June and September!). I notice when the kids come in after a long time in the pool, they are absolutely starving! They’ve gotten really good exercise when they’ve been swimming and splashing around in the water.
It’s not always easy to be active as a family, especially during the winter months when the days are shorter and weather is more unpredictable. But when we make an effort to do so, we can nurture good fitness habits and spend quality time having fun as a family.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.