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Fitness Gifts That Won't Break the Budget

This season, give items that promote healthy lifestyles

En español | Despite the cheerful public image of a certain red-clad gift bearer, one need not be fat to be jolly. In fact, as too many of us know, there is little joy in shaking like a bowlful of jelly, whether one's laughing or not.

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Gifts that promote a healthy lifestyle don't have to break the bank. — Photo by Image Source/Corbis

Yet, many gifts we exchange during the holidays enable a sedentary lifestyle — iPads, Snuggies and the much-maligned fruitcake among them.

Don't get me wrong: Each of those has a valid place in our lives. But this year, why not give the gift of health and fitness, or at least something that will help people on their way to a healthier lifestyle?    

Here are my ideas for gifts that fit the bill — and your budget.

Free

  • Time! Give a "gift certificate" good for a specified number of hours as the recipient's walking partner.

Under $15

  • Resistance band 
  • Dumbbells
  • Jump rope 
  • Exercise mat
  • Thera-Band exercise strap, to assist in stretching and strengthening at home.
  • DietMinder (a food and fitness diary)
  • Stretch shoelaces (provide incredible comfort by flexing with the motion of your foot)
  • Shoe insoles
  • Water bottle
  • Sweatbands
  • Health-oriented cookbook or subscription to a health-oriented magazine

$15 to $35

  • Fitness ball
  • Online personal training program, custom designed for the recipient, from websites such as Free Trainers (free), Workouts for Women (three months for $34) and Workout.com ($35 per year)
  • Exercise videos
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • Pedometer (Omron is especially accurate and durable.)
  • Gym bag
  • Sport exercise towel, which is tailored for exercise with extra absorbency and resistance to bacteria and odor
  • Fitness watch (for example, one that measures heart rate or can record lap or "split" times, for walking, jogging, cycling and swimming)
  • Chin-up bar
  • Fitness gloves, with padded palms to prevent chafing and blisters from weightlifting
  • Body-fat tester that measures and records body fat
  • Bathroom scale
  • Fresh-fruit basket

You could of course spend a lot more — yoga classes, gym membership, treadmill, etc. — but I promised to stick to budget gifts, and it's way too early to start breaking resolutions.

Shop healthy, shop smart and, most important, keep focused on your own healthy lifestyle this holiday season.

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