Janet Hackert, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Harrison County, University of Missouri Extension
What better way to show we care than by giving the gift of good health to our loved ones. Although we can’t actually give or guarantee good health, we can at least encourage one another toward healthier choices.
Gifts that promote physical activity are a great way to encourage healthy habits, for you and your loved ones.
Being physically active has a positive influence on health in a number of ways. For example, being physically active can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and colon and breast cancer. It can help to maintain a healthy weight. Being active can also help older adults prevent falls, reduce depression and maintain cognitive function.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular activity and children 6-17 years old should get 60 minutes or more of aerobic activity per day. Both groups should also be doing muscle-strengthening activities three times a week. For children and youth, this can be part of their daily hour of activity. At any age, these activities can involve a sport, exercise or just moving for fun.
Helping oneself or a loved one meet these recommendations provides lots of great ideas for gift giving. Walking is an easy way to fit fitness in and a pedometer is one way to get motivated to walk more. They come in an assortment of styles from simple and inexpensive ones that clip on a waistband and just count steps to elaborate ones that can be worn as a bracelet and measure steps, heart rate, miles, location and may even have other useful features like a timer and music player. There are also apps for a mobile device that go along on a walk to map out a route for a desired distance or time.
For more great gift ideas that encourage ourselves and our loved ones to be physically active, to eat well and to keep up with preventative screenings, check out the full version of this article at http://missourifamilies.org/