Stockings will soon be hung by the chimney with care. But will healthy gifts be tucked in there?
If you’re looking for stocking-stuffer ideas for the health or fitness junkie in your life, or you just want to jumpstart a healthy 2018, researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have a few ideas you might want to add to your shopping list:
1. Ho-ho-H2O
Water is always a good beverage choice. A high-quality, reusable water bottle makes it even more convenient to have water right at your fingertips. Stainless steel and glass options can help avoid traces of harmful chemicals that can be found in plastic bottles, and with many options in the $10-35 range, they won’t empty your wallet.
Most of us are on the go, so the convenience of having a water bottle nearby might keep you from reaching for sugary sodas or juices. Plus they reduce waste, so you’re also helping save the environment.
2. Toss in a super vitamin
Wintertime brings with it more hours of darkness and often leaves people deficient in vitamin D, so consider slipping a little bottle of sunshine in pill form into those stockings. Vitamin D is essential for strengthening bones, bolstering the immune system and lowering the risks of certain conditions from heart disease to Alzheimer’s.
3. Get in step
Top-tier activity trackers can run you north of $200 these days, but simpler options can give you the incentive to get more active without breaking the bank. Amazon sells Cellay’s Activity Tracker for under $15 and the Kimitech Fitness Tracker Watch for $30, and both have five-star ratings. Aim for around 10,000 steps per day—about five miles for most people.
“Trackers can help motivate people to take the stairs or park further away to get in more steps,” said OMRF scientist and avid runner Linda Thompson, Ph.D. “It’s kind of amazing how much it motivates you when you’re aware of your progress. It makes you want to push yourself to do more.”
4. For those holiday smiles
You can’t go wrong by putting a good toothbrush or two in everybody’s stocking. Taking proper care of your mouth not only helps maintain a bright smile and fresh breath, it has also been linked to better overall health.
Research shows good oral hygiene may lower your risk of heart disease, infections and provide even better blood sugar control for diabetics. Research at OMRF has found poor mouth maintenance can be a factor in autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
“Brush your teeth and floss regularly,” said OMRF scientist Umesh Deshmukh, Ph.D. “If nothing else, at least you’ll have a healthy mouth.”
5. A tasty tradition
Pieces of fresh fruit or handfuls of unshelled nuts are traditions that date back to St. Nicholas himself. The idea of giving fruit or nuts as gifts really took hold in the U.S. during the Great Depression when money was tight and luxuries were few, so finding an orange and other healthy fruits or nuts in a stocking was a real treat.
It’s also great for you today and a much healthier option than candy. Fruits contain a plethora of nutrients: minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants that the body needs. “Oranges, apples and bananas are ideal, because they are easily portable and are jam-packed with flavor and nutrition,” said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D. “Nuts are a good choice, too, because they’re high in healthy fat and protein. Just don’t over-indulge. They’re also high in calories, especially in large quantities.”
So this December, be a good elf. Instead of raiding the bargain bin and candy aisle at your local megastore to fill up your family’s stockings, add some of these useful—and healthy—items.
“These tips may seem simple, but they might help instill healthier habits in the long run,” said Chakravarty. “They also might help keep you or your loved ones from yielding to the temptation to overdo it on holiday treats.”