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Healthy Gifts that Keep on Giving…


Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

Not sure what to get your loved ones this holiday season? You’re not alone.

The holidays are a time for giving, and we know that sometimes it can be hard to choose gifts that are actually worth giving.

So this year, instead of giving the “same old, same old,” why not give gifts that could actually make a difference in someone’s life and improve their health?

Now we’re not talking about gym memberships and diet books here; they can seem overbearing and even offend the recipient rather than exciting them.

Instead, we’re suggesting functional, health-promoting items that just about anyone would be happy to receive.

If you’re still struggling to find that perfect something for that special someone in your life, here are a few healthy gift ideas that you may want to consider.

Healthy Gift Idea #1: A Pedometer

You’ve probably heard of pedometers before. They’re neat little gadgets which count the number of steps you take in any given day.

Why get one? Because they actually have been proven to help people exercise.

In a study, two wellness programs were compared. One group was given a “Green Prescription”, which is basically written exercise advice, the other was given a Green Prescription plus pedometers.

Amazingly, the pedometer group walked almost twice as much as the other group.1

Certain pedometers are actually quite sophisticated, tracking your walking speed and even estimating the number of calories you’ve burned in a day.

But, really, the most important thing is the number of daily steps taken. In general, a solid one-day goal should be about 10,000 steps.

Healthy Gift Idea #2: An Electronic Toothbrush

My husband got me an electronic toothbrush for Christmas three years ago, and since then my dentist has seen an obvious change in my teeth. I’m never going back to a manual one — unless I have no choice, of course.

Some research shows that electronic toothbrushes are more effective than manual toothbrushes in maintaining oral health.

They’re better at removing stains2 and disease-causing plaque,3 and they’re also more effective in reducing bleeding gums.3

Electronic toothbrushes are especially good for people with limited manual dexterity and visual impairments. Look for models that use rotation, oscillation technology for the maximum benefit.

Healthy Gift Idea #3: An Essential Oil Kit

It’s very common for women to give or get perfumes or body sprays as gifts during the holidays. However, many of them contain toxic compounds called phthalates which have been linked to all sorts of health problems, like heart disease4 and diabetes.5

A much safer alternative is an essential oil kit. Essential oils are non-toxic, and they can even improve your health.

For instance, lavender oil has been shown to enhance sleep6 and ease migraine pain,7 while orange oil has been shown to alleviate anxiety.8

Healthy Gift Idea #4: Active Video Games

Active video games aren’t just for kids; they’re for adults too. And they’re a seriously fun way to exercise.

Research shows such games can increase your heart rate, oxygen uptake, and energy expenditure.9 In a clinical study, overweight children who engaged in active video games had significant changes in BMI (body mass index) and body fat.10

You can choose from a variety of games which feature exercises, sports, and even dance routines. Some, like the Wii Fit, even estimate the number of calories burned during an activity and keep track of your daily activities.

Healthy Gift Idea #5: Nutritional Supplements

Supplements are nice stocking stuffers. But in a world of too many supplement choices, it can sometimes be difficult to choose the right one.

Not sure which supplements to give? A multivitamin may be your best option especially for someone who isn’t supplementing their diet at all yet.

As you may know, much of our food is processed and lacks nutrition. As a result, it’s crucial to supplement our diets with a multivitamin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey and showed the following nutrient deficiencies were common in the United States:11

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C

So as you can see, people are in need of good nutrition, and many people aren’t even aware of it. Perhaps giving someone you care about their first premium-quality nutritional supplement could help open their eyes and set them on course to better health. Who knows?

If you decide to give supplements as gifts, aim for easy-to-swallow capsules that can be taken once or twice daily. People are more likely to be compliant with simple formulations, so start them off slowly!

The Bottom Line

If you’re health conscious, you probably spend at least some of your time and attention trying to get your loved ones to make healthier choices. Many of us share this same role within our own families and circle of friends.

As such, these health-promoting (yet subtle) gifts could really make an impact. Who knows? You may just inspire a few New Year’s resolutions as well!


  1. Ann Fam Med. 2012 May-Jun;10(3):206-12.
  2. J Clin Dent. 1994;5(1):13-8.
  3. Eur J Paediatr Dent. 2010 Dec;11(4):200-2.
  4. Atherosclerosis. 2011 Sep;218(1):207-13.
  5. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Sep;120(9):1307-13.
  6. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:740813.
  7. Eur Neurol. 2012;67(5):288-91.
  8. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Aug;18(8):798-804.
  9. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(11):1005-1009. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.1271.
  10. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul;94(1):156-63.
  11. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/4Page_%202nd%20Nutrition%20Report_508_032912.pdf . Accessed November 26th, 2012.

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