The Healthiest Gifts of 2012
Gifts that keep on giving
From workout gear to kitchen gadgetsand even a deluxe treadmill deskwe've scoured stores to bring you 20 healthy gift ideas that are guaranteed to make the people on your list feel good, inside and out.
Health pros swear by foam rollers for relieving post-workout tension. These aids, like The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller ($30, amazon.com), from Trigger Point Performance, are designed to be rolled along your back and legsâand anyplace else that's stiff and sore.
When combined with your body weight, the uneven foam surface acts like a massage to loosen muscles and work out knots.
Yoga at home
Gwen Lawrence, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants and New York Knicks, told us her pick for the best beginner's DVD is Kathryn Budig Aim True Yoga ($15; gaiam.com). This energizing sequence helps novices master moves by breaking down each pose into easy-to-follow steps.
Wireless activity tracker
The Zip syncs to an online dashboard, accessible via computer or smartphone, that tracks overall progress and even awards achievement badges.
The Amblers also feature super-grippy soles (even on damp rocks) and a perfect ratio of cushioning and support.
This deceptively simple system (it's just a bar with a resistance cord and foot strap at each end) is easy to put together, and the accompanying DVD offers three workouts (plus a bonus arms sequence) that you can mix and match. Instructor Gin Miller gives excellent direction, and while the routines are pretty simple, they’re still challenging.
Make it easy on yourself: The compact Microplane Herb Mill ($20, williams-sonoma.com) minces those herbs with a flick of your wrist.
It's a perfect gift for desk jockeys: Sitting for eight hours a day is a recipe for tight muscles—especially those hamstrings.
Trying to encourage your friends and family to eat less meat? The Meat Free Monday Cookbook ($19, amazon.com)âbrainchild of Paul McCartney and his daughters, fashion designer Stella McCartney and photographer Mary McCartneyâwill help them cook in a veggie-centric way and still get all their nutrients.
An offshoot of the McCartneys' Meat Free Monday campaign, the book shows how simple it is to go veggie one day a week. The recipes are built around produce, good fats, and alternative protein sources (whole grains, beans, soy, and nuts).
The TR1200-DT model we tried ($1,500, lifespanfitness.com) was smooth, quiet, and sturdy, and the simple treadmill console tracks steps, calories burned, and distance walked. No fancy hill or interval programs here—this machine means, well, business.
Blend and go
Smoothies can be a great way to get a serving of fruit and essential vitaminsâbut store-bought varieties can pack as much sugar and fat as a candy bar. The key to a slimming drink is controlling what goes into the blender.
Mix up a single serving of your favorite smoothie in the Oster My Blend Blender ($25, amazon.com). Simply blend in the bottle, pop on the sports lid, and you're off.
Kettlebells are a hot new way to build strength, but they're bulky and often expensive. This product solves both problems by providing a range of weights in one affordable package: One click-twist and this calorie-torching and toning orb shifts between 5, 8, and 12 pounds.
Smoked olive oil
"Drizzle on roasted veggies or macaroni and cheese—even soup," says celebrity chef Tyler Florence. "It tastes like you've added bacon!"
Got a competitive streak? You can share your score (and compare it with your friends') via social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Are there people on your list who struggle to eat healthy? Packing their own lunch each day can help them stay slim, research suggestsâbut that doesn't mean they should brown-bag it.
Help them ditch boring (and eco-unfriendly) disposable bags by giving the Smart Planet Collapsible Lunch Box ($15, amazon.com). This silicone bento box helps keep portion sizes consistent and, best of all, collapses for the trip home.
Simply place them under your hands, feet, or knees during exercises to increase your range of motion. Moves like mountain climbers and lunges are instantly more challenging.
Cleaner water bottle
This BPA-free bottle unscrews from both ends, so you can actually scrub the entire inside. That's a big plus, since unclean bottles can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Bonus: 10 percent of profits go to one of six charities of your choosing.
Strength training can help you trim major fat, research reveals—and doing super-slow (versus normal speed) reps increases strength by 50%. Plus, using dumbbells activates more muscle fibers than using machines.
Winter workout wear
Toss it over the super comfy Saucony Evolution V-Neck Long Sleeve ($48, saucony.com)—made with a poly-spandex blend, it stretches with you.