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Season's greetings

10 healthy holiday gift ideas

10 healthy holiday gift ideas

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2011

This holiday season, forget the tie, sweater or latest 1,000-page historical biography.

Instead, think jumping jacks, smoothies and weight lifting. In other words, think about giving the gift of good health. After all, what better way to tell someone you really care about them.

With that in mind, we have compiled a list of 10 healthy gift ideas for your consideration. So wrap one up and help someone you love jump-start a new, healthy lifestyle.

1. Strolling, power walking and running made simple

Surprise the technology lover on your list with an iPod pedometer. The Nike and iPod Sport Kit is an integrated system to track workouts including time, speed and distance. It includes a wireless sensor that slips into any Nike+ shoe, and a receiver that plugs into a (fully updated) iPod Nano. (A compatible computer is also necessary.)

The user can download playlists and workouts from iTunes and then get moving. ($39,, not including computer or running shoes.) Free or nearly free pedometer apps with fewer bells and whistles are also widely available online for iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. For those without the latest Apple product, less-flashy pedometers that are strapped to the hip to get the job done. Mountain Equipment Co-op carries several brands with multiple features including Momentum by St. Moritz ($30) and a digital pedometer and calorie counter by Timex ($28). Go to for more information or call 943-4202. You can also visit the store at 303 Portage Avenue.

2. Hit the gym

So maybe giving the gift of sweat and sore muscles could be a little offputting to the giftee at first blush. But today's gyms are much more than the utilitarian facilities of the past. They are bright, bustling centres with lots of fitness options for everyone. Membership rates vary, depending on the facility and the membership category. Deals can often be found on family, seniors and student rates. Also consider buying a shorter, trial membership as a starting point. Here is a list of a few of the larger fitness facilities in Winnipeg, along with an idea of what they offer.

  • YMCA-YWCA: With four locations across Winnipeg, plus a new Youth Centre in the North End, the Y is a great option for anyone. Facilities include full-service, family-friendly fitness centres, courts, gymnasiums, pools, tracks, aerobics and other fitness classes. Local Ys offer many family programs and activities. For more information go to or call specific locations: Downtown 947-3044; Elmwood-Kildonan 668- 8140; South 233-3476; West Portage 889-8052; or North Y Youth Centre 989-4109.
  • Rady JCC: Located in Tuxedo, the Rady Jewish Community Centre is a well appointed, full-service gym and fitness centre adjacent to the Assiniboine River on Wellington Crescent. The family-friendly facility is open to all and boasts a leisure and a lap pool and an extensive array of sports, recreation, and fitness programs for people of all ages, among many other amenities and services. Visit, or call 477-7510.
  • Wellness Institute: Inside the 80,000-square-foot Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital, you'll find a sports gymnasium, an indoor track, more than 80 cardiovascular machines and more than 100 weight-resistance machines. Weight-loss groups, boot camps, fitness classes, sports rehabilitation and a wide array of many other healthy-living classes and programs are offered for every personality, age and activity level. For more information go to or call 632-3900.
  • Reh-Fit Centre: Located at 1390 Taylor Avenue, the Reh-Fit Centre cares about your specific health and fitness goals. Their dedicated staff provides guidance and support when you need it, whether you are just starting an exercise program, suffering from a chronic disease, or finetuning your athletic training. They are more than a fitness centre. Visit or call 488-8023.
  • The Clubs: Whether your activity is five-pin bowling, squash, tennis, badminton, swimming, cross-country skiing, hockey, or skating, chances are there is a club for you. The following clubs offer one or more of the activities listed above: Winnipeg Winter Club, or call 452-3311; Taylor Tennis club, or call 488- 4480; Charleswood Ski Club,, or call 661-6961.

3. Read well, cook well, eat well and live well

This year's crop of healthy-eating cookbooks have tons of simple, fresh and waist-friendly recipes to inspire good, balanced and delicious nutrition, one meal at a time. Here are some titles worth considering this holiday season:

Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter. The McNally Robinson Books website says this book is widely considered to be a leading source of information about nutrition tips for feeding infants and children. Among other things, the book offers help on how to teach a child who is reluctant to eat. It is listed on the website in paperback for $21.95.

Older adults may be interested in The Longevity Diet: The Power of Food to Slow Aging and Maintain Optimal Health and Energy. The book is written by celebrity nutritionist Leslie Beck, who also writes for the Globe and Mail. As the title suggests, the book offers all sorts of information about what you need to eat to live longer. The McNally Robinson wesbite lists the book in paper back for $24.

Looking for a book with a bit of edge? Try Kim Barnouin's latest tome - Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook, Crazy Delicious Recipes That Are Good To The Earth And Great for Your Bod. The McNally wesbsite calls this book "a tart-tongued, no-holds-barred wakeup call to all women who want to be thin. With such blunt advice as, 'You are a total moron if you think the Atkins Diet will make you thin,'" the book has plenty of attitude, but also provides solid nutritional information. The book includes nearly 150 recipes and many colour photos. It's listed online at McNally's for $15.95.

Other titles of interest include:

  • Simply Great Food, produced by the Dietitians of Canada;
  • HeartSmart: The Best of HeartSmart Cooking, by Bonnie Stern;
  • Lindsay's New Light Cooking, by Anne Lindsay;
  • Suppertime Survival, by L. Roblin and B. Callaghan; and
  • Hold the Salt, 50+ Quick & Easy Recipes to Help You Eliminate Salt from Your Diet! by M. Tilley.

4. A furry friend

Okay, so you shouldn't just give someone a pet for a surprise gift. But, that does not mean you should forget about the idea altogether.

In fact, the Winnipeg Humane Society encourages those who are thinking about getting a pet this time of year to consider adopting one.

After all, a puppy or dog makes the perfect active-living buddy. The new owner will get lots of love and daily walks, fresh air and exercise while accompanying their new friend.

The Winnipeg Humane Society won't give dogs up for adoption without the participation of the new owner. The humane society's policy is in place to prevent a rash of post-holiday returns of unwanted pet presents. Opening a humane society gift certificate on Christmas Day won't be as thrilling as a fluffy, adorable, drooling and loveable mutt, but the sentiment is there just the same. A puppy adoption (six months and under) costs $289. It includes spaying or neutering, initial vaccinations, a health exam, a two-week health period, an ear tattoo and a behaviour evaluation (for dogs 6 months and up). Dogs (six months and up) cost $199; senior dogs cost $80; small breeds cost $289-$449. For more information visit, or call 982-2035.

5. Training gets personal

Get that stuck-in-a-rut friend the gift of motivation (and a drill sergeant) this holiday season. A good personal trainer is part coach, mentor, therapist, good cop and bad cop. Whatever the goal - from losing 10 to 100 pounds or more, to running a marathon, to transforming a lifestyle - a trained and certified personal trainer can help. They will evaluate a client's current fitness, consider lifestyle issues and help develop a plan of action. Then they will help run, lift and crunch that loved-one into a fine, fit form.

Some trainers work with clients at home, outdoors or in the fitness facility. Personal trainers typically charge hourly fees, and multi-session packages are also offered. Tina Hamm at the Manitoba Fitness Council says trainers' fees can range from $40 to $80 per hour, depending on a particular trainer's credentials and experience. The council has developed a handy checklist of questions people should ask when considering hiring a personal trainer. Among other things, you should ask whether the trainer has post-secondary education in exercise science; current information on the latest trends and safety; current CPR and first aid training; and liability insurance, among other key qualities. The website also has a link to the Manitoba Exercise Professionals Association, which has a list of professional trainers. For more information, visit the Manitoba Fitness Council website at

6. Weighty matters

For those counting calories and watching what they eat, consider a kitchen nutrition scale this holiday season. Modern scales are sleek, digital and accurate, making food weighing even easier for anyone looking for a high degree of accuracy in portion size. These scales are designed to tell you how many calories you are consuming in meals or snacks prepared at home. Want to know how many calories are in a plate of pasta? Simply type in a set code, put the food in a dish on the scale, and the digital screen reveals the calories, carbohydrates, sugars and other nutrients contained in the serving.

Look for brand names and avoid plastic parts when selecting a kitchen scale. In Winnipeg, Lee Valley has a nifty scale for $49.00. Some of the options at include Salter nutritional scale $64.99; Cuisinart digital kitchen scale $29.99; and the ultra-thin professional digital kitchen food and nutrition scale by Ozeri $34.95. Scales are also available at kitchen equipment shops and larger stores like London Drugs and Wal- Mart.

7. Video game exercise regimen

Forget sitting around with a joystick, mindlessly blowing away alien races. That was then. Today's generation of video games include fitness programs that challenge participants to stand up, get moving, and ultimately get active. Nintendo's Wii Fit Plus, with its balance board and more than a dozen exercise program options, makes a great gift for Winnipeggers who feel homebound in the winter but still want to be active. Wii Fit Plus is all about building strength, aerobic capacity, core stability and balance. The program acts like a personal trainer, keeping track of calories burned, tracking progress and evaluating fitness. (Prices can vary. Wii Fit Plus with balance board $128 plus shipping at, Wii Fit Plus software $19 plus shipping at

8. Winter fun

Is your special someone a bit of an adrenaline junky? Then perhaps the gift for them is a trip to Adrenaline Adventures. Located just west of Winnipeg on the Perimeter Highway at 600 Caron Road, Adrenaline Adventures is a winter wonderland with a bit of a difference. The park offers an assortment of activities for winter sports enthusiasts, including snow tubing, skating, and snowboarding. It also offers something called cable snowboarding. J.P. Tetrault at Adrenaline Adventures says this activity involves letting snowboarders take on jumps and obstacles while being towed by an overhead cable system. "It may be a first in North America," says Tetrault. Visitors may also want to try xorbing (extreme orbing), a relatively new recreational activity that involves rolling down a hill while strapped into a large plastic ball. Gift certificates for Adrenaline Adventures range from $25 to $50.

For more information, visit or call 800-2060.

And remember, always wear a helmet and/or appropriate safety gear when participating in outdoor activities.

9. Butt out

Sometimes your favourite smoker just needs a friendly nudge to do the right thing. If you think they may be receptive, a stop-smoking program - which teaches cessation tips, deconstructs the power of addiction and offers one-onone personal coaching and support - may be a suitable gift.

The health effects of quitting smoking are dramatic and swift. Lung capacity improves, the risk of heart attack and stroke plummets, and the chances of developing many types of cancers drops often within weeks of butting out. Enter Kick Butt!, the stop-smoking program at the Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital. The $300 (plus GST) program includes five hours of behavioural health coaching and counselling with a registered social worker specializing in smoking cessation. The program also includes a threemonth membership to the onsite medical fitness facility and a medical consultation with a doctor.

Meanwhile, at the Manitoba Lung Association, helping someone quit smoking is a click away. The lung association has a free, self-directed quit-smoking guide available online at under the smoking and tobacco link. 'Get on Track' and 'How do you want to quit' help smokers quit for good by teaching them how to deal with cravings, replacement activities, how to make a stop-smoking plan, the many different ways to be successful, pharmaceutical options, who they can go to for support and how to talk to your doctor. They can also call the smokers help line at 877-513- 5333 for immediate personal support or go to And when your loved one meets a smoke-free milestone, spring for a fancy dinner, an afternoon at the spa, a new golf club or a weekend away.

10. Mix it up

A blender under the Christmas tree won't win any romance points. But with a personal promise to make healthy fruit, yogurt and protein shakes and smoothies regularly for your partner or pal, a sturdy, well-made blender is a thoughtful, 'I want to take care of you' gift. At Bosch Kitchen Centre (105-2800 Pembina Hwy,; 275-2617) peruse the high-end, fully loaded blenders that will handle heavy-duty ice crushing with ease. RPM by L'Equip is a 900-watt, six-cup capacity blender for $199. Bosch Universal is an all-in-one multi-functional mixer with blender attachment for serious kitchen dwellers. The 700-watt, six-cup capacity blender (included with the mixer and other attachments) costs $554. Meanwhile, for $249, pick up a Porsche-designed Bosch blender for its sleek, brushed aluminum, 700 watt, six-cup capacity. At The Happy Cooker (464 Stradbrook Ave,, 453- 2665) check out the five-speed, 1.75 litre Kitchen Aid blender for $230. They also stock several varieties of Cuisinart blenders. One inexpensive option is the Magic Bullet line of blenders, which start at $39.99. For more wallet-friendly blenders, check out the selection at London Drugs, Wal-Mart, Superstore, The Bay and Canadian Tire, where many smoothie-quality blenders cost about $30 and up.

Wave: November / December 2011

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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