Health Take-Away: 25 healthy holiday gift ideas

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If you're in good health this holiday season, you know that's the greatest gift of all in your own life. What better way to celebrate than by sharing the gift of health with others? I recently conferred with my fellow contributors to this column, and we came up with what we believe is a great short list of 25 health-minded holiday gift ideas for 2017.

While a few of these ideas carry a generous price tag, most are very modest and some don't cost a penny, other than your own gift of time. The focus here isn't on giving things, but rather, on giving the experience of healthy living, eating, moving, thinking and helping others.

HEALTHY LIVING

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A full-spectrum light box to beat the winter blues in those affected by seasonal mood.

- Design a simple oasis area in the home for mindful moments (as basic as a chair, table and lamp in the corner of a room).

- A special date for a winter walk, along with some wool socks and mittens.

- An aromatherapy starter kit with candles, oils, diffusers and creams.

- A pair of blue-blocker glasses for filtering out harmful blue light after sunset.



HEALTHY EATING


- Help start a healthy cookbook collection with one or more culinary guides on vegetarian, Mediterranean and other healthy cuisine.

- A small appliance, such as a juicer-blender for making smoothies; a food steamer, a food dehydrator or a spiral vegetable slicer for making veggie pasta.

- A collection of brain-healthy spices, like sage, saffron, cinnamon, curry powder, ginger, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary and marjoram, will boost flavor and brainpower.

- Use your own cooking talents and deliver a weekly healthy homemade meal to that special person on your list.

- A membership in a local organic community supported agriculture farm, store or program providing a share of the weekly harvest, delivered at home in season.

HEALTHY MOVING

- A portable under-the-desk stationary bicycle or elliptical machine.

- One of the new biofeedback apps that monitor heart rhythms and help reduce stress (phone, tablet and laptop versions).

- Be a weekend hiking partner or weekday exercise buddy for someone more likely to get moving when they know you're there waiting.

- A gym or health spa membership.

- Any type of clothing, gear or equipment that will help someone participate in an activity, e.g., shorts and tops, running shoes, a pickleball racquet, hand weights, stretch bands, snowshoes or a ping-pong table for the family.

HEALTHY THINKING

- Give one good book or more to start someone's home health library, including subjects like personal fitness, disease prevention, first aid and managing stress.

- Help someone stay health focused year-round with a monthly magazine subscription on such diverse subjects as mindfulness, diabetes, children's health and psychology.

- Pay for a session with a Certified Health and Wellness Coach to guide someone's personal path.

- Cover the cost of a course or seminar on a specific health topic.

- Literally give someone time to think by offering to house-sit whenever they need a get-away.



HEALTHY HELPING


- Provide babysitting services that allow a couple or single parent time off now and then.

- Instead of more toys, cover the registration fee for your grandchild's camp, dance lessons, swim team or other activity.

- If you have experience in any activity like running, bicycling or aerobics, offer to be someone's friendly one-time personal trainer, just to get them started.

- Donate to a charity that speaks to someone's heart — a woman's shelter, a food pantry, an animal rescue organization.

- Volunteer yourself to help any organization dedicated to the health and wellness of people of all ages.

Mark Pettus, M.D., is director of Medical Education and medical director of Wellness and Population Health at Berkshire Health Systems.


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