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That Gift of Exercise Might Go to Waste

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Dec 20th 2018

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THURSDAY, Dec. 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- You might think the perfect gift for someone you love is a gym membership or a subscription to a healthy food plan, but you need to make sure the recipient will make use of them.

"As much as we may want to, we can't change people who are not ready to make changes in their own life," said Kara Shifler Bowers, a registered dietitian and a project manager for Penn State Health PRO Wellness.

It's only appropriate to give someone a health-related gift if they've asked for it or expressed interest in it. And even if someone asked, it's not always a good idea, Bowers added.

"We certainly don't want to offend loved ones, but we also want to make sure we aren't propelling a potential eating or body image disorder," she said in a health system news release.

If someone is struggling with such a disorder, a gift that takes the person's focus off their body -- such as candles, tools or housewarming items -- might be better than fitness or healthy food gifts.

"If you are on the line and not sure if it's appropriate to give a health-related gift, give cash or a gift card, just to be safe," Bowers suggested.

If you decide to give a health-related gift, be sure it matches the recipient's interests, said Dr. Jayson Loeffert, a family medicine and primary care sports medicine physician at Penn State Health.

"For instance, if the individual is looking to exercise more but hates going to group fitness classes or the gym, think of other more enjoyable ways to encourage activity," he said. "Maybe a new pair of sneakers, a fitness watch, or a day of hiking or exploring outdoors would make better gifts."

Other ideas include giving people packets of seeds to grow their own herbs and vegetables, or a new water bottle to ensure they stay hydrated, planning a walk to explore a new area, or making healthy, homemade meals together, Loeffert said.

Gifts that benefit mental health are also a good idea, according to the Penn State experts. For example, gift a night of babysitting to young parents so they can go out, a spa day or massage, or a day to spend time together in an activity or hobby.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more tips on healthy living.