Top Ten Holiday Gifts for Good Health

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Here are Maverick Health’s top ten holiday gifts for good health. Too often the holidays end up in a tailspin of bad health choices. We overeat and gain 5 lbs that we never seem to lose, we feel stressed and we spend more than we planned on gifts that aren’t always appreciated or good for those to whom we give them. But this year things can be different. Here are some healthy gift ideas for your friends and loved ones that say “I care about you and your health”.

  1. A Nurse Practitioner’s Guide to Smart Health Choices by Carla Mills, ARNP. (A shameless plug for my own book, but it’s the best darn guide I’ve been able to find for people who want to take control of their own health and health care.) Send it as a gift – we’ll gift wrap it for you! Or buy it for yourself! If you don’t agree that it’s one of the most useful health books you’ve ever read, just tell us so and we’ll refund your money – guaranteed.)
  2. Here are two very important books that I recommend to 95% of my patients. They are best given together and read in this order: First read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan then read The End of Overeating by David Kessler. Kessler’s book picks up where Pollan’s book leaves off. They are well written and easy reads – not “how to” books. I read them last summer and they have literally transformed my relationship and attitude toward food and restaurants in a good way.
  3. Jumpsnap Cordless Jump Rope. I own one of these and this is my favorite exercise “gadget”. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart. The heart is a muscle and the more you work it the stronger it gets. Jumping rope is a fabulous aerobic exercise. The problem comes if you want to jump rope inside (say if you are traveling or the weather is bad). Ceilings are often to low to use a standard jump rope. The Jump Snap is electronic and has no rope so it can be used in hotel rooms or wherever there’s not enough ceiling height for a standard jump rope. Tip: Jumping rope is a secret weapon in the quest for aerobic fitness and weight loss. Jumpsnap makes a great gift. Be sure to check with a health professional before beginning any new exercise program if you have not been physically active.
  4. Pedometer. Walking is healthy and safe for almost everyone. If you don’t see your gift recipient wanting to jump rope there are other ways to increase physical activity and burn up more calories. One of the most gentle and effective ways is walking. The daily goal is 10,000 steps everyday but studies have shown inactive people only walk about 3,000 steps a day. Clip a pedometer on every day and add 500 steps each day until the goal of 10,000 steps is reached. How? Park further away from stores, take the stairs, walk the mall, take a nature walk – be creative! This device incorporates “exercise” into one’s daily life.
  5. Sun Mountain Speed Cart V1. This gift was recommended to me by Bob Carney, the creative director for Golf Digest, as a healthy idea for all the golfers out there (you know who you are). Bob writes, “I’ve got three or four fitness machines that never get used. The one healthy thing I, and a lot of my middle-aged friends do, is walk the golf course. Remember, it’s a six-mile walk on average for 18 holes and I play about 50 rounds a year. This product by Sun Mountain is cool because it allows you easily to walk when you play and not have to carry your bag. Unlike a lot of clunky pull carts, or expensive motorized ones, it’s light, easily-storable, and sturdy.” He denies working for Sun Mountain but says this product did get listed in the 2009 Golf Digest “Hot List” Gold Selection this year. Add a pedometer and you’ve got a fun fitness plan!
  6. Yoga Force Mat. This environmentally friendly, well cushioned, non-slip mat would make a great gift for the yoga practitioner on your gift list. Whether they practice at home or at a yoga studio, the lines on the mat help keep postures properly aligned – plus it is just plain cool looking. I wish I had one.
  7. Rx Tote Medicine Bags. I really wish all my patients had one of these. Anyone who takes medications should have a place to keep them organized (and should carry them to all appointments with health providers). These kits keep meds travel ready, too. Having all medications in one place vastly improves your chances of taking them correctly. I can’t tell you how much time/energy we waste/spend in my practice just to make sure that our records of what patients are supposed to be taking match what patients actually are taking. I only wish the pill boxes included in these kits were the larger 4 time a day/week rather than the once a day/week kind. Most people on multiple medications take them more than once a day. Make that one change to this product and it will be perfect.
  8. A Recipe for Life. Good nutrition is so fundamental to good health that without it good health is improbable if not impossible. There are so many diet and cookbooks out there, but not so many nutrition books. Susan Dopart is a registered dietitian who has written an attractive and nutritionally sound book with lots of good recipes to teach you the basics of good nutrition. My book (another shameless plug) teaches the basics of good health, Susan’s book teaches the basics of good nutrition. Put the two together and you have a powerful recipe for better health.
  9. Save a Child. There is nothing that will enrich your holiday more than giving generously to someone less fortunate than you. Save the Children offers many opportunities for any budget to help children in need. Unlike many gifts which are opened and forgotten, these gifts literally transform and even save lives. Plus you can add a cuddly goat or sheep plush-toy to your order to give the child you help something to unwrap and enjoy this holiday season!
  10. A Slow Christmas is a FREE GIFT FOR YOU OR A LOVED ONE. This refreshing and calming blog by Porter McConnell deserves a visit. Porter writes “According to the American Psychological Association in this survey and this one, too), holiday stress can contribute to stress-related illnesses. Perhaps the most important way to help people improve their health is for them give themselves permission to take it easy at Christmas this year. The holidays are supposed to be a time to relax and have fun, not to get stuck running endless eleventh-hour errands in a crowded mall. We need to slow down Christmas, and start enjoying it. If we don’t, our health and well-being suffer.” I agree with Porter. Her blog has inspired me to slow down my own holiday this year and it’s feeling good!

Best Wishes for Happy and Healthy Holidays!

This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat. For that please seek direct care from a health professional.

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