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Ensure the gift of health tops your list

ONE of the trickiest things about the holiday season is tracking down the perfect gift for someone you care about.

ONE of the trickiest things about the holiday season is tracking down the perfect gift for someone you care about.

It's never fun to push through the chaos and commotion of the mall during its busiest month - and the stress is only exacerbated when you don't know what you're looking for.

Don't forget about good health while doing your holiday shopping - your health, and that of the people you're shopping for. Here are some gift ideas to help you help those you love take care of their bodies and their minds as the Christmas chaos winds down, and all year long.

For the body:

- Resistance bands, an exercise mat, dumbbells, or DVDs: Why not help someone close to you set up a home gym? You can purchase any combination of items to fit any budget, and there's no shortage of howto information to be found online. You could even make it a themed gift: a yoga mat, pants and beginner's yoga DVD is one example.

- Abdometer: This amazing new core training device takes ineffective ab exercises and makes them easy, fun and effective. It fits in a small drawer or gym bag and gives a complete core workout. It has 10 levels and different modes for strengthening and toning, making it suitable for beginners and advanced athletes. The abdometer could be a helpful gift for anyone on your list and can be found at Fitness Town locations.

- A one-month gym membership: Many gyms offer a one-month trial membership, and they often offer special discounts for the New Year. For many, signing up for a membership is the hardest part - so why not take that difficult first step for someone on your Christmas list this year?

- Gymboss: If someone on your list has been using an old stopwatch to help them out at the gym, a useful and thoughtful gift would be the Gymboss Interval Timer. It can be used as a stopwatch, a countdown timer or a repeating interval timer. Basically, it helps the user plan their workout in advance by keeping it structured, controlling the intensity, and letting the person working out focus on just that - working out - instead of on pushing buttons and checking their watch.

For the mind:

- An inspiring book: Everyone deserves some quiet time, especially in the weeks following the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Since December's festivities leave many feeling physically and mentally drained come January, it's a great idea to encourage someone you love to take a time-out and sit back with a great book. Most bookstores have entire sections dedicated to great health and fitness-related reads.

- A sun lamp: Most people know that fun in the sun increases vitamin D and boosts your spirits, but not everyone knows you can get similar results from a sun lamp. Sun lamps emit the full spectrum of light you get from the sun, and using one in the winter causes an increase in vitamin D production and a reduction in stress and mild depression. These effects can help you stay happy and active through the winter months.

- An iPod with an armband: Music is a great motivator when it comes to exercise. While it's rare to find someone without some version of an iPod or other MP3 player these days, a thoughtful accessory is an armband. An armband will eliminate the hassle of having the device unattached during a workout. Or, you could go with the iPod Shuffle - it's tiny, holds about 500 songs, and can be clipped onto clothing.

Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information call his office at 604-420-7800 or visit his website

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