When you’re a busy parent, finding time to work out can feel like an impossible dream. Who has the time to catch a yoga class or spend an hour at the gym? Plus, you’re managing your child’s type 1 diabetes care, which takes up a tremendous amount of your attention and focus. With a jam-packed schedule, your needs too often fall to the bottom of the priority list.

However, when you take the time to get in shape, you’re actually giving your family a gift, says trainer Marc Sickel, founder of Fitness for Health®, a pediatric therapeutic exercise facility in Rockville, Md. Finding time for fitness allows you to recharge your batteries and may make you a happier, healthier person.

So how do you find the time? Setting the alarm an hour earlier to fit in an early-morning walk or working out to an exercise DVD after the kids hit the sack is one way to go. Many gyms offer childcare or kids’ centers, which can be another great option for busy moms. (Evaluate them as you would any daycare or babysitter, and be sure anyone who cares for your child is trained in the basics of diabetes care and knows what to do in an emergency.)

No gym? No problem! Certified fitness trainer Nicole Clancy recommends moms work out at home. “Pushups and planks are equipment-free exercises that you can do right in front of the TV,” she says. “Jumping rope is a wonderful cardiovascular activity that you can do in your living room. Even video games like Wii FitTM can get you up and moving.”

If you’re suffering from mommy guilt at the mere thought of working out without your wee ones, Sickel says incorporating kids into your workout can be your best bet. He recommends scheduling regular “family playtime” sessions throughout the week.

“Design your own obstacle course using household items such as sheets, empty boxes, chairs and sticks to create tunnels, hurdles and mazes,” he advises. “Form teams — parents versus kids or parent-sibling versus parent-sibling.” He also recommends hosting a family dance contest, setting up a treasure hunt in the backyard — or even playing a friendly game of family baseball. “Use a homemade bat: Wash and dry an empty two-liter bottle. To make the bat more durable, add an 18-inch wooden rod or a stick. Place the rod in the bottle opening and duct-tape it in place,” he says. “Use it with Wiffle® balls, wadded socks, crumpled paper — anything you can imagine!”

Certified personal trainer Karen Jashinsky says you can also work out in tandem with your kiddos. “If you can find a way to get your child doing his or her own thing while you do yours, it can be an even better way to feel less guilty about taking time to work out,” she says. “Rather than bringing him or her with you to workouts, let your child lead the way with what he or she wants to do. It might mean fitting your workout in around theirs, but the end result can be a lot more effective.”

Maybe this means walking laps around the field during soccer or football practice (which is a great way to get in some talk-time with your child also), working out your legs on the swing set while your children play on the monkey bars, or walking back and forth in shallow water while they splash around (supervised, of course!) in the pool. Or simply walking to and from school with them. Fit in bursts of exercise wherever you can to burn extra calories. You may be surprised how much fitness you can sneak into your daily routine.

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.

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