Gifts for good health

From stocking stuffers to gadgets, here are some gift ideas with health and safety in mind:

Carbiner LED Light ($5.50, Mountain Equipment Co-op). Perfect for a stocking stuffer, this bright light clips to your key ring, zipper pull and even your dog’s collar. The LED bulb is bright enough to read print and make things visible on dark winter nights. The lights come with replaceable batteries and two modes: a steady glow and flashing.

LED Illuminating Bands ($11.50, Lee Valley). Worried about being visible while walking at night? These weatherproof bands curl around your arm or leg with a “snap”. Not only are the bands reflective, they contain an LED light to help you be seen at night. Expect about 100 hours of light before the batteries need replacing, and the bracelets easily straighten for storage.

If you prefer a clip on, try the Clip-On LED Illuminating Marker (also $11.50) which uses carbiners clip to attack to zipper pulls or back packs.

LED Infrared Detection Light ($8.50, Lee Valley). Good lighting is key to preventing falls around the home. Using an infrared motion detecting system, this bright LED light can sense movement up to 16 feet away within a 90 degree viewing range with no light required. It’s perfect for lighting staircases, hallways and rooms — imagine getting out of bed and a light comes on before your feet hit the floor. You can adjust the brightness and automatic shut-off time too.

Ergonomic Nail Clippers ($9.95 to $16.95/pair). Keeping our hands and feet healthy is important, but drugstore clippers don’t always make the job easy. This line of clippers is longer than standard clippers, easier to hold and use less force to get the job done cleanly. They also have an optional anti-slip pad to stabilize the clippers on flat surfaces so all you have to do is push.

If you prefer a more comfortable angle, try the Rotary Fingernail Clipper instead.

Cooling towels. ($15.95 and $19.95, Beat the heat on a summer day, keep cool while you exercise or find relief from hot flashes. Simply add water to this re-usable towel, wring it out and wave it through the air to activate its cooling properties. The towel will feel dry against your skin, but the special fabric inhibits evaporation to offer hours of cooling.

RoadID. ($15.99 to $29.99, Don’t go without I.D. or crucial medical information when you’re exercising. RoadID offers a line of athletic wristbands, silicon bracelets, ankle IDs and tags that you can customize with your name, emergency contact and information such as allergies or health conditions. (You can even get tags that slide on pet collars too.)

Crasche Hat ($24.95 USD to $27.95 USD, Originally designed for police officers and sports enthusiasts, these hats have found an unexpected market: people who suffer from dementia or who have special needs. On the outside, a Crasche hat have the style and fit of a typical hat, but inside they have removable polycarbonate plastic inserts for impact protection and an inner layer of neoprene rubber (the kind used in wet suits) for comfort. Knit caps are available for winter and summer caps are made from mesh to vent moisture away.

Yak Trax ($25.95 to $54.95, available from shoe stores and drug stores). Think of them as snow chains for your footwear — only much easier to put on and take off. Hand wound, stainless steel coils offer extra gripping power on snow and ice. The “walker” models offer plenty of stability for everyday use, but there are “pro” and “sport” models designed with athletes and off-roaders in mind.

Moisture wicking clothing. Special fabric wicks moisture away from the skin and spreads out across the fabric for faster evaporation than cotton. The comfy, cooling fabric isn’t just for workout wear and underwear either: think “hot flash nighties”, seamless socks and “stay cool” cover-ups for around the house or the pool.  Discovery Trekking Outfitter‘s line of moisture wicking clothing is also infused with silver to kill odour-causing bacteria.

Bed sheets with similar properties are also available for a comfy night’s sleep despite summer heat or night sweats.

Nutritional Scale ($49.95, Lee Valley).  Not all foods come with nutritional labels or perfectly portioned servings. This scale helps you see what you’re consuming so you can stick to your healthy eating goals. Simply put the food on the scale, punch in the code and the LCD display tells you the weight, calories, fat, carbohydrates and other nutritional information.

Spa gift certificate. (Available from your local spa or It’s more than a luxury — a massage can improve circulation and muscle tone, especially following illness or injury. Not surprisingly, it can also help reduce stress. Treat your gift recipient (and perhaps yourself too) to a massage this season.

If you’re looking for a lower cost option than a spa, see if there is a massage school in your area — or try a few techniques at home with your partner. (For more ideas, see Spa on a budget.)

Fitness classes. Of course, spa gift certificates aren’t just for treatments — they can often be redeemed for fitness classes such as Pilates or yoga. Beyond spas, many communities offer classes and leagues for just about every activity from meditation to dancing. Treat yourself and a friend to a class and you’ll have a fitness buddy to keep you motivated.

Nordic Walking Poles ($64.99, Have you heard about the health benefits of Nordic walking? Adding a pair of poles to your daily walk can burn more calories and work more muscle groups than walking alone. The poles can easily be adjusted for your height and come with a convenient carrying bag. (They’re also available through many sports stores if you want to try before you buy.)

Shoulder Wrap ($67.99, If you’ve ever suffered from shoulder pain, you know how difficult it can be to get an ice pack or heating pad to stay put. This washable wrap has two aptly placed pockets for heat or cold packs right where you need relief. Similar products are available for hard to treat areas such as the knee, wrist, ankle and back too.

IceOtherm ($149.99, Heat and cold are known for their pain relieving properties — but what about using them both at once? The hand-held IceOtherm uses hot and cold simultaneously to create a sensation known as the “Thermal Grill Illusion”. The burning sensation confuses pain nerves and offers temporary relief for chronic pain and muscles spasms. It won’t cure pain, but it can reduce the dependency on pain medications and clinical treatments like TENS.

Venowave VW5. ($450.00, It’s isn’t often you have the opportunity to give the gift of healing, but this uniquely designed compression calf pump has been shown to help prevent blood clots, ease swollen legs and heal wounds in the lower extremities (such as diabetic wounds).  The cordless and tubeless pump is worn around the calf and uses a patented “wave-form motion” to boost circulation.  The device can be worn whether reclining or exercising, and has a guard to help conceal it under pants. (See the Venowave in action in these videos.)

One tip before you shop: Buying health-related gifts can be a touchy subject for some people, so it might not hurt to drop some hints or find out if your recipient is interested in a class or item. Try to match gifts to their interests and preferences, and avoid “weight loss” items unless you’re sure they would be welcome.

Do you have ideas to add to this list? Share them in the comments below.

Photo © Jacob Wackerhausen

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