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Give the Gift of Health & Fitness

Healthy Gift Ideas for Holidays & Special Occasions

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With the holidays approaching, you've probably got gift-giving on your mind. Stumped over what to get Uncle Joe or Mary, your college roommate? If your friend or family member has expressed interest in getting healthy or already has an established fitness routine, then a health-related gift might be perfect for her! Here are some ideas to get you started:

For the Reader

Health-related magazine subscriptions offer lots of options when considering a title to best fit your recipient's needs and interests. Many magazines promote subscription deals at this time of year, so be on the lookout for those. A typical magazine subscription will cost between $10 and $25 for a year. If you're a current subscriber, often you can purchase a gift subscription for someone else at a substantial discount. Here are some popular magazines to consider:
  • Body + Soul focuses on total wellness—healthy home, inner growth, natural living and balance. The publisher offers discounted gift subscriptions with the purchase of another subscription.
  • Men's Health is a man's guide to weight-loss, muscle building, health and relationships.
  • Prevention provides information about getting fit, losing weight and living a healthier life. This magazine appeals to a wide range of ages and also offers gift subscription discounts.
  • Self covers a wide range of topics for women, including nutrition, fitness, living well, and goal-setting. The publisher often offers a "buy one get one free" gift subscription for the holidays.
Similar gift ideas: Health, nutrition and fitness books (check out our Healthy Family Book Reviews), healthy cookbooks, health-themed calendars (daily, weekly, or monthly).

For the Fitness Enthusiast

Many health clubs offer short-term gym memberships (one or three months) that give someone a chance to try out the facility and see if they like it. A gift like this is easier on your wallet than a yearlong membership, and may give that special person the motivation he needs to achieve his fitness goals.

Some gyms also sell passes to fitness classes that do not require gym membership. If your giftee prefers a step class over the treadmill, consider buying her a package of fitness classes at a local gym. Also check out specialty clubs (such as Pilates, Spinning or yoga studios) and their class options. For example, if you and your husband have wanted to try Spinning, buy a few classes for both of you to enjoy together.

Similar gift ideas: Personal training sessions, fitness videos or DVDs, fitness equipment (yoga mat or props, stability ball, resistance bands), gift card to a sporting goods store, workout clothing or socks.

For the Music Lover

iPods are hot items right now that can make a workout more enjoyable. For someone who already has an iPod Nano, the iPod Sport Kit is an affordable accessory for just $29. It has a sensor that goes into any shoe and measures activity (distance, speed, etc.), and then wirelessly transmits the data to the receiver on an iPod Nano. The new iPod Shuffle ($79), which holds 240 songs, is compact, easy to use, and makes an excellent gift for any age. And there's always an iTunes gift card (available online or in a variety of stores), which can be used to legally purchase music, movies, TV shows and podcasts for any iPod or mp3 player.

Similar gift ideas: iPod accessories (such as an arm band that holds the iPod while you exercise), other mp3 players, fitness music CDs, gift card to the Apple or other electronics store, Nike+ apparel or shoes (which coordinate with the iPod Sport Kit).

For the Overworked

Who doesn't like a little stress relief and pampering now and then? Spa treatments can be beneficial for both physical health and mental rejuvenation. Spas offer a variety of services that appeal to different interests and price ranges, from massage to manicures, pedicures to peels. "Specialty" spas are becoming more common, such as those that solely cater to men or pregnant women. Do some research about the spas in your area to find the best fit, whether a gift card so your recipient can choose their service, or a specific treatment.

Similar gift ideas: Bath products (oil, gel, loofah, bath pillow), relaxing music or meditation CDs, aromatherapy candles, facial products (scrubs, peels, moisturizers), cozy bath robe or slippers, towel warmer, massage oils and how-to books, reflexology or acupressure socks/gloves.

For the Giver

There are so many health-related causes that rely on donations to keep their programs going. Instead of giving a gift that will end up collecting dust in a few months, why not give a donation to a charitable organization in someone's honor? Here are some organizations to consider:
  • www.Cancer.org (American Cancer Society) provides education, research and support for the fight against cancer.
  • www.DressForSuccess.org is a nonprofit that gives job interview suits to low-income women.
  • www.Heart.org (American Heart Association) conducts scientific research, education and programs throughout the U.S. to combat America's #1 killer, heart disease.
  • www.Komen.org (Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) may be one of the most recognized and respected organizations in the fight against breast cancer.
  • www.MayoClinic.org is a respected nonprofit that diagnoses and treats virtually every complex illness and disease, conducts research, and provides education to the public.
  • www.MOWAA.org (Meals on Wheels Association of America) works to eradicate hunger and malnutrition among America's seniors and other people in need.
  • www.TeamInTraining.org, of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, provides training for marathoners, triathletes, and cyclists who raise money for the Society.
  • www.TreesFTF.org (Trees for the Future) will plant over 400 trees in your name, which offsets years of car emissions, for just $40.
Similar gift ideas: Live tree(s) for planting, store-bought products that benefit a cause (such as pink ribbon items for breast cancer or Red items for AIDS relief), giving holiday gifts in another's name for hospitalized or underprivileged children, other charitable donations for specific causes that are important to your recepient, and bumper stickers or car magnets that bring awareness to a cause. For more charity ideas, visit www.CharityNavigator.org.

For the Runner or Walker

If someone on your gift list has expressed interest in running or walking an upcoming race (such as a 5K or 10K), consider signing him up and paying his race entry fee. Perhaps he doesn't want to do it alone or just needs a little push to register. Another idea is to pay entry fees for your whole family and to start a family tradition of completing the "Holiday Race" each year. There are a variety of races throughout the year in most areas (including kid-friendly "fun runs") and most of them benefit a charitable cause. This is a great way to do something nice for others—both the gift recipient and those benefiting from the charity!

Similar gift ideas: Entry fees for other competitive and non-competitive events (cycling, triathlon, swimming, etc.), a race day gift box for someone who regularly completes races (water bottle or camelback, energy drinks, gels, or bars), gift certificate to a running or cycling store, outdoor workout apparel for your climate.


Now you've got plenty of gift ideas for the health-conscious people in your life, as well as the loved ones who you'd like to encourage along a journey to health and fitness. Hopefully this will make your shopping a little easier this year. Happy Holidays!

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Member Comments

  • MIZZONLINE
    this is a good way, good articles.. love it so much http://www.ayamko
    doksurabaya.com/ thanks..
  • Also, I have read and find it to be true, that having fun with someone and being happy, is a memory treasured, while gifts are easily forgotten.
  • I was given a tip that there were easy, quick recipes in Men's Health. I also found great health ideas for my spouse, fun things to do, and easy to hard exercises that I found I could do. So, maybe if a male were to buy himself a subscription, and start working out, easy enough for her, and make it fun (pretend to be having a hard time?), she would be happy to join him. A team effort is always helpful!
  • What would be a good gift for the appropriate person - is a gift certificate that could be applied towards various 5K /10K/etc events.. I try to do one a month and while it's for charity and you get a tshirt -the entry fees add up...
  • Nothing says Honey I think you're FAT than a gym membership.. Unless they asked for it -not exactly a great gift for some folks.. (

    a guy at the customer site I am currently stuck at - bought his wife a pair of workout pants... I joked wiht him when he bought them that she's going to think that he thinks she's fat and needs to workout.. He scoffed... the next day he came in and said how did I know.. (i've never met his wife, however it's fairly common reaction for some women :)
  • My MIL gave me a gift subscription to Runners World this year for Christmas! I'm so excited about and totally look forward to getting it each month.
  • FEELTHESUN
    Great article! Loved the links to charities!
  • DIPSMOM
    Two years ago my sister gave me a subscription to Prevention magazine. At first I was offended but then I remembered how I was only telling her how much I needed to get healthy.
    Good news is that I found SparkPeople through Prevention earlier this year.
  • This is a good way to tell an out-of-shape relative that s/he needs to take care of his/her health.

About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.