Jen: Transitioning to Big-Kid Exercise

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James was a 2-year-old tornado. Heck, he was a 6-MONTH-old tornado! Since the days of his infancy, James has always been busy, active and all over the place. When he was a toddler, we used to speculate that he'd end up playing pro football. Here's this big kid with a really large and heavy head that just seemed to love ramming into things. His love of body contact and his "ants-in-pants" syndrome meant that we never sat down as we followed him throughout his toddlerhood and into the preschool years. We never figured he'd turn into a bit of a book worm.

But then as he got older, his love of reading superseded his need to move. Somewhere around first grade his reading was strong and proficient enough that he began reading instead of running everywhere. For a while we've used this to our advantage. James starts getting antsy -- "Here's a book, James," and instantly he calms right down! His teachers were (and still are) thrilled that he loves to read. It's very gratifying to watch him devour huge books. But it has a small downside!

I'll never forget watching him one day over the last school break. He came downstairs for breakfast and read Harry Potter® at the breakfast table. I made sure he had his insulin and left him downstairs to attend to the needs of the other kids. While we were upstairs playing, James kept reading -- ALL DAY. We ate lunch later, I checked his blood sugar -- James never put down the book. He read from eight in the morning until I realized, around four o'clock, that he hadn't done anything else that day! Time for some exercise!

So I guess this is my way of saying, I would never have predicted that my crazy-busy-beyond-all-belief little boy would need prodding to get active. But that's where we are. Lucky for James, there are still lots of things that he loves to do and that we love to do as a family. It just takes a little reminding on my part to extract him from his latest literary obsession.

Our current favorite family exercise involves a park, bikes and jogging stroller. Ben, still too young to ride a bike, sits in the jogger while James rides and Luke practices on a two-wheeler at the park. All of us get in the action in our own way, and it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon outdoors.

James was never big into soccer, but that has changed recently as he started playing it at recess with some of his friends. He exercises HARD at school. We're lucky we have such a great school staff to make sure his blood sugar never drops too far while he's out there on the playground!

I've been noticing that as James gets older, his obligations and pursuits continue to grow and grow. His time becomes more precious, and I find that even wholesome and worthy activities (like reading) can easily start taking up more than their fair share of his day, simply because he has so many things to do. Thankfully, James is still a kid, and kids have some really fun exercise opportunities. I must say, I prefer watching him play soccer and ride his bike to some of his antics as a crazy 2-year-old. No more body slamming Great Grandma? Then we're making progress!


About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I'm thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.

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.

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Related topics:
Jen: Physical Fitness OUR Way
Kim: Family + Fitness = Fun (Really!)
People in the Know: Easing Into Exercise

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