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As 2018 winds down with holiday parties, family get-togethers and maybe one last cookie exchange, it’s time to start planning for healthy changes in the new year. Little things can make a difference for parents and their children.

Samantha Sanders, senior wellness director at the GHS Family YMCA, said the Y’s focus is on a healthy spirit, mind and body. She said parents can be a role model for their children in all three areas.

“Discuss why it’s important to have proper exercise and well-balanced nutrition,” she said. “A good mental break is to stop what you’re doing and play a game of tag, go in the backyard and play basketball or just turn on the music and have a dance competition.”

More: Six healthy holiday snacks you can make this Christmas

Keep it simple and know that every step matters. Sanders said the average adult should have at least 150 minutes a week of exercise – that’s just 30 minutes each weekday. And those minutes add up quickly by heeding common advice like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the door.

Even sedentary activities like watching TV together can be infused with good health.

“Make it fun and engaging,” Sanders said. “On a commercial break, how many air squats can you do? How many steps can you take? Kids want physical activity to be fun and engaging. Ten minutes of running around in the backyard, do that three times and you’ve got your physical activity.”

When taking small steps toward good nutrition, the whole family can work together. Sanders said letting children pick a vegetable at the grocery store or preparing a meal together gives them ownership over the choices and the process. Keeping healthy choices available and easily accessible makes it easier for adults and kids to stay on the right path.

Focusing on short-term, attainable goals and taking deliberate steps to meet them is the key to a healthy 2019 – for the whole family.

“Set them up for success and not failure,” Sanders said.

The GHS Family YMCA branch is offering Healthy Kids, Strong Family, a new eight-week program to promote proper education on nutrition and physical activity for families. The program, made possible by a grant from Sprouts Farmers Market, includes the Y’s signature Wellness Works program, family and kid group exercise classes, nutrition education and cooking demos created by a registered dietician and led by a Wellness coach, a grocery store tour and more. A free information session is at 6 p.m. Dec. 6. The program is 6 – 7 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 24 – March 21. The cost is $79 (YMCA of Greenville members only). For details, email ssanders@ymcagreenville.org or call 864-963-3605.

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