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YMCA of the USA Offers Simple Tips to Give the Lifetime Gift of Health and Well-Being to Family and Friends This Holiday Season

salad sprinkled

with dried cranberries or cut vegetable tray will make a colorful

addition to the buffet and give calorie-conscious party-goers a healthy

alternative to sweets and heavy dishes.

-- Create your own gift certificates offering healthy activities. Give a

friend a certificate for a walk-a-week together; give a gift of

babysitting so a family member or friend can enjoy an exercise class;

stuff kids' stockings with gift cards for family bike rides, games of

catch. These gifts cost nothing but time and not only promote healthy

activity but will strengthen family connections and bonds with friends.

-- Turn on music after dinner and dance as a family; play musical chairs;

have children make up routines and teach the adults the "new moves,"

and have parents teach the children dance moves to music from when they

were younger.

-- While kids are home from school -- and missing recess -- design a

family obstacle course. Stations might include hula hoop, jump rope,

push ups, abdominal crunches, jumping jacks and wall sit. Set a timer

and have the family move around to each station and perform the

activity for 1 minute, increase the time by 30 seconds as the family

begins to master each station.

-- Offer entry fees to a fun run/walk to a friend or family member and

plan to train together. Find an event a few months away to help stay

motivated post New Year's Resolutions. Wrap an empty frame for the

finish line photo.

-- Sign up the family or a group of friends for a healthy cooking night at

a local cooking school or create your own version at home. You'll enjoy

the party atmosphere while learning healthy new recipes for the New


-- Give everyone on your list a pedometer and encourage them to keep track

of their daily steps

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