Give the gift of health and wellbeing this Christmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house, nothing stirred apart from men and women frantically browsing online looking for last minute gifts for family and friends…

Now although I might have slightly miss quoted the original classic “A Visit from St Nicholas” I do believe the scene is a fairly common one. In a bid to keep the blog lighter for the festive period I have thought this month about present giving and what alternative gifts we could purchase for our friends and family.

There are thousands of health and fitness gifts on the market, and they are becoming even more popular and visible. Below is my take on one popular option people might have already considered, plus one slightly more unusual gift option.

Wearable Technology / Smart watches

Background

Probably the biggest leap forward in personal health and fitness over the last 2-3 years is the development and usability of Smart Watches. They seem to be becoming a huge part of modern life with two tech magazines quoting that 1 in 9 people now own one.

These devices cost anything from £30 for a Xiaomi Mi Band through to £300 for an Apple 2, with a huge range between £99 and £159 in the middle. The price difference relates to the huge different types of functionality and display systems. The functionality ranges from counting steps and some health readings, right to the top end where they can be used underwater to tell you your swimming stroke patterns, used on a golf course to let you know your distance from the hole, and even can be used with fellow cyclists to measure the time differences and power outputs on a team bike ride.

Why are they beneficial?

If we take away the top athletes amongst us, one of the basic benefits of these devices is that they let you know how much activity you are doing, and this can help you monitor and increase that activity, and set targets in your own manageable way. Personally, I love mine; it is a basic model and links straight to my phone. Currently, I only use it for steps but in the Spring, I will be upgrading to one for golf. There have been 3-4 occasions the last month where I have gone out for a walk in the evening so that I can meet my personal steps target.  If you want to lose a little weight, get fitter or just have a cool new toy these could be great for you.

Further Information

There are so many options out there, and they really fit so many different needs and budgets. The dedicated industry online magazine Wearable and online tech reviewers Stuff both have a good reviews that are worth checking out.

Health MOT

Background

Although we take our car to the garage every year for an MOT, how many of us can say we annually check up on our bodies? The answer depending on research is usually less than 8%. Quite shocking we check our car’s health more than our own. It isn’t possible to just book ourselves into the NHS for a ‘once over’ in the same way we can call a garage but there are hundreds of options out there across a wide price range.

Prices for a health check are usually a lot lower than people would expect, typically starting at £15 and going up to around £190, depending on what you are looking for.

Why is it beneficial?

If you would prefer to address a potential health problem early, these checks provide a quick and easy package of screenings that can help put your mind at ease while making sure you are fully informed on any underlying health issues. Should any concerns be found, the providers’ comprehensive results report can help you and your doctor take preventive action.

Depending on the level of MOT you choose, it can include over 50 different tests all about you.

I have had one of these in the past, and will be booking in for February 2017 for another. My grandmothers did not have the best health, and I really do believe that “prevention is better than cure,” so I’d rather know if I am prone to anything going wrong or if there has been a change in my underlying health.

Further Information

Like with the Smart Watches the are many options out there and while I haven’t tried all the options myself, I have heard good things from my clients about two providers; Bluecrest  (£99 – £179) and Nuffield Health (prices on application). If your budget is smaller, Lloyds Pharmacy do a range of health checks such as a “Cholesterol and Heart Test” for under £20.

I know the first option of a wearable watch is more fun than a health check up but I feel they are equally important. Getting a good blend of prevention via exercise and healthier choices and early diagnosis of any issues is key to staying healthy. In my blog last month, I spoke about survival rates of people who caught cancer early, the same can be seen for heart disease and other chronic conditions. By noticing the early indicators, you can make changes to your life and potentially reduce your chances of further issues and lessen the impact on your health and life style.

Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read this, I am off to buy Liz (my amazing, tolerant wife) a heart rate monitor, body fat tester and cholesterol kit for Christmas! I cannot wait to see her face; I think she will be really surprised!

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