Health-minded holiday gift ideas

Whether adding to your own wish list or purchasing for someone else, health and fitness gifts are a great choice and a motivating way to start the New Year. Some of my favorite picks include:

The Gorilla Gym is a convenient system that is perfect for those who don’t want to join a health club. The gym attaches to your door frame in seconds, with no drilling or bolts required. Optional attachments allow for a wide variety of additional strength and cardio exercises to be performed at home, making it ideal for those looking for a time efficient workout. This is a compact fitness platform that is lightweight and portable, and certified for up to 300 pounds. Visit gorilla-gym.com

Exercise intensity is critical to obtaining good results from your fitness program. The Polar FT4 heart rate monitor is designed with features to help assess how hard you are working, helping you to stay in the “zone” that’s most effective for your goals. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced exerciser, heart rate training is an effective tool, providing guidance, motivation and tracking for improving your performance over time.

The Polar FT4 is very easy to use, and also displays calories burned during workouts. It comes with a comfortable fabric transmitter and coded heart rate transmission to avoid cross-talk. Visit www.polar.com

Low back pain plagues millions of people. A unique product developed by a veteran-owned small business, the VacuPractor is an FDA registered and patented device designed for the self-treatment and relief of lower back pain. The user lies down on this simple, easy-to-use device, which creates a natural vacuum effect to gently pull the spine and stretch the muscles in the lower back area. Veteran Paul Hagen, co-founder of VacuPractor proudly states a 95 percent success rate helping people with back pain feel better. His latest mission involves helping to get the VacuPractor to troops that are in pain, out in the field and those returning home. Visit www.vacupractor.com for more information.

We all know how important it is to drink enough water, especially if we are active. Many experts recommend drinking filtered water whenever possible, to avoid ingesting harmful contaminants. Brondell, Inc. is a leading developer of award-winning home products, and has released the H20+ Cypress Countertop Water Filtration System, with top quality filtration usually found only in more complex under-sink systems. The unit is designed to take up minimal space and installs in less than 10 minutes, allowing for safer, better-tasting and more environmentally-friendly water at the push of a button. The Cypress comes with a faucet diverter that fits 99 percent of home faucets or can be installed under the sink with an available T-valve, which is sold separately. The Cypress is tested and certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA). Visit www.brondell.com

Pedometers make great stocking stuffers, keeping track of your daily steps, measuring distance and speed and with some models, even measuring your heart rate. Prices for pedometers vary greatly according to the extras offered. Basic no-frills models can be found for under $20.00. Although the accuracy of some pedometers has come into question, as a step-tracking tool, it is still a good way to see that as time goes by, you are increasing your steps. The idea is to try to improve day-to-day. For cardiovascular health and weight maintenance for healthy adults, experts recommend taking about 10,000 steps most days of the week, more steps if weight loss is desired. For those with medical conditions, diseases, senior citizens or those who are unaccustomed to exercise, consult with a physician as to appropriate number of steps. Ten thousand steps equates to approximately 5 total miles, with the distance covered depending on the length of the stride. If 5 miles seems like a lot, remember that this amount includes all steps taken, from formal workouts, to everyday tasks and errand running.

Resistance bands, wrist/ankle weights, dumbbells and stability balls make great inexpensive gifts for the fitness minded. Any type of resistance exercise helps to build stronger muscles and bones, and increases your metabolism. Stronger bones and muscles make for stronger joints, leaving you better equipped to take on physical challenges with less likelihood of injury.

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