To all you last-minute shoppers who've been more dedicated to fitness than shopping, here are a few healthy recommendations to wrap up and to give to those like-minded friends and relatives.
These are gifts I find worthy on many levels because they support and enhance an active lifestyle. Whether you are an avid exerciser or simply on the verge of becoming one when the new year arrives, here is my 2009 fit list:
For the serious walker/runner who refuses to let cold weather stand in his way, consider the Metro Suede Ear Warmers by 180s. These nifty little insulated covers by JVC not only keep your ears warm, but also double as your music headphones - all for about $30. And, the wind resistance makes them perfect for boating when you want to drown out the motor noise and still hear your favorite tunes crystal-clear.
Take the gambling out of the cards by taking a chance on the Fit Deck. Chances are the only thing you have to lose is fat. For $10, this deck of "playing cards" will challenge you to a great workout. There are many types to choose from, but, for example, the Fit Deck Dumbbell has 56 cards that give you a random sampling of strength-training exercises to perform each time you shuffle, draw and go. Every card illustrates a dumbbell exercise and includes instructions on form and technique for the beginning exerciser to the advanced.
For the person who has everything, make them smile with a gift card to a licensed massage therapist. For about $60 for an hour massage, the person who needs nothing gets the gift of relaxation, circulation, stress management. This thoughtful gift is just about as good as it gets.
For the home exerciser, the Wii Fit. Nintendo, the father of video games, is investing lots of imagination and money in a growing market: obese people. They have figured out how to get people off the couch and onto a little platform, which calculates the user's weight and center of gravity for a variety of activities. You can weight-train or snowboard or do aerobics, push-ups, hula hoop, balance games or yoga, to name a few. You have to have the Nintendo Wii first and then add the Wii Fit for about $175. They are so popular they have been hard to snag, but you'll burn calories looking for them.
The Perfect Push-Up ($30) adds a new spin to a reliable old exercise. Holding on to comfortable rubberized grips that rotate to reduce joint strain and allow your arms and shoulders to move more naturally, much the same way they do when you throw a punch or press up a dumbbell. You can immediately feel it engaging more muscles as the Perfect Push-up is more difficult than a traditional one with hands on the floor.
Nike just knows how to stay a step ahead of its competition with innovative products. The Nike + SportBand is a bracelet that communicates with a sensor embedded in your shoe to track your pace, distance and calories burned. The bracelet has a removable USB port that plugs directly into your PC and tracks your runs. Great for the novice and experienced walker and runner. Nike offers more than 40 shoes with the built-in sensor but you can also purchase a sensor and slip it into your favorite running shoe.
If you like to carry your water with you everywhere but don't want to take chances on chemicals leaching into unsafe plastic bottles, invest in a BPA-free bottle. There are several good ones on the market that are stainless steel and aluminum. Camelbak bottles, however, are plastic, BPA-free, can hold hot or cold beverages. For about $13, the bottle is a good one to choose if you want to reuse it.
If you have someone on your list who wants to exercise but isn't sure about what type of activity he'll like, consider giving a gym membership. It is a gift that allows the receiver to find his own way to fitness and to explore lots of physical opportunities. A gym can provide guidance and support and plenty of variety.
If you like to have the latest and greatest, get in on a soon-to-be-unveiled fitness gadget called the Fit Bit. Available in January, this cool little toy clips onto your clothes or slips into your pocket and monitors your movement in three directions. It knows when you've been active, it knows when you're asleep. That's right. With 95 percent to 97 percent accuracy, it tracks your sleep patterns and tells you how long it took you to fall asleep, etc. It also tells you how many calories you're burning as well as those you've been eating. All this for $99 - so you'd better watch out!
Finally, have you ever heard of the book "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World"? It's still available for $15 and makes a reliable resource for loved ones who soon will be making New Year's resolutions.
I know there is not much time left, but these gifts are perfect for any occasion. Remember, it's not the gift you give but the thought behind it. Wishing you and yours a happy healthy holiday.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site www.cindysays.com or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.