Here Come the Holidays, Here Come the Pounds…or Not?

Holiday gifts are often as decadent as the parties at which they are given. Occasions for overindulging are frequent for the last weeks of the year, just as physical activity levels decline thanks to shorter, colder days.  Hey, I’m all for munching on a piece of chocolate cake. My motto? Moderation  in all things, including moderation!

Giving the gift of good health is a neat idea.  The folks at sent me some interesting tips I’d like to share because they really apply to all ages.

“The toys and games that kids receive as gifts often encourage sedentary behavior,” says Rob Bisceglie, Executive Director of Action for Healthy Kids.  “Adults can teach and model healthy habits by giving presents that encourage physical activity.”

My son, for instance, insists that we play ball every morning and afternoon. It’s as if the moment he’s eaten something, he’s ready to burn it off. Not a bad idea!

Action for Healthy Kids suggests these easy ideas for giving the gift of health this holiday season:

•        Fresh produce.  Find bountiful baskets at a local grocery store, send a bushel from an online citrus grower, or join an online “Fruit or Veggie of the Month” club. Remember to eat what’s in season because, quite frankly, it tastes better!

•        Join a gym.  Give membership to an athletic club or the YMCA. If you can’t afford a gym membership, join a walking group with friends. Start slowly, walking ten minutes, then fifteen and increase it until you’ve hit a comfortable amount of time.

•        Find a fun fitness class.  Gift certificates are available for gymnastics, yoga, aerobics, rock climbing, tae kwon doe, dance lessons and dozens of other active endeavors. I personally love my gym because they’ve recently renovated their spa area. There is nothing like dreaming of a nice steam room visit on a cold winter’s day!

•        Make a healthy toolbox, not an Xbox!  Give toys that can be used in the basement or garage during inclement weather.  Include balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, bubbles, and chalk for hopscotch.

•        Embrace the cold.  Snow toys, skis, sleds, and skates make cold weather fun! Be sure to wear the right clothing so no one freezes. As my father-in-law likes to say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; just bad clothing prep!”

•        Plan a family adventure.   Try hiking, biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, or a walking trek.

•        Make the most of screen time.  Kids of all ages love motion-controlled video games, music video dance games, and exercise DVDs.

•        Don’t forget the favorites.  Bikes, tricycles, pogo sticks, roller or in-line skates, and scooters have always kept kids moving!

“A fresh, health-driven perspective can make the holiday season an opportunity for children and adults alike to start practicing healthier habits,” says Bisceglie.  “Why wait for the New Year?”


About Action for Healthy Kids

Action for Healthy Kids ( is the nation’s leading nonprofit and volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment by helping schools become healthier places and our kids learn to eat right and be active every day.  A collaboration of more than 67 organizations, corporations and government agencies supports grassroots efforts by thousands of volunteers nationwide.  In 2009 Action for Healthy Kids reached nearly 4 million children in 8,000 schools.


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