A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Give the Gift of Good Health

Posted December 07, 2015

Whether you have a sister who’s a fitness fanatic or a dad who is set in his sedentary ways, we have great gift ideas — both high tech and not-so-high-tech — that will help your loved ones stay healthy and fit.

First up: gadgets favored by UVA cardiologist and Club Red ambassadorBrandy Patterson, MD. “Technology can help us make the most of our time,” she says. “These gift ideas are innovative tools to improve efficiency when exercising and make it easier to eat healthy.”

Go High Tech

A pedometer for your kids. A pedometer is a small, clip-on activity tracker that can help you encourage your kids to be more active. Set goals for kids each week and reward them with a special outing or extra screen time if they achieve them. Some devices available today allow you to sync the pedometer to an app on your phone and give kids on-screen rewards.

A food scale that counts calories. Food scales are great for keeping your portions in check but some of the newer scales can do that and so much more. They can not only weigh your food but also tell you the exact amount of calories, sugar, salt, protein, vitamins and minerals of any food you place on it. Some will even send information to your iPad, so you can set goals and keep track of your progress.

A body scale that measures more than just your weight. Just like the food scale mentioned above, body scales are getting ever more high-tech, measuring weight, body fat, body composition and heart rate.

The newest fitness trackers. Now you can keep track of how many steps you’ve taken, plus how many calories you’ve burned, how many standing breaks you’ve had and more. For extreme fitness fanatics, there are even trackers that fit to your snowboard or clip on to your sunglasses. All give you a snapshot of your daily activity.

Smart, Low Tech Gift Ideas

“For those trying to improve heart health through diet, the best ‘gadgets,’ in my opinion, are not necessarily the most high tech or fancy, but handy tools that will make it easier and faster to follow a diet that includes an abundance of wholesome, natural food and beverages,” says UVA dietitian Katherine Basbaum, RD. Some of her favorites include:

A stainless steel water bottle to promote increased intake of fresh water; stainless steel is safe, convenient and environmentally friendly

An insulated Lunch tote or mini cooler to make it easier to pack snacks and lunches for work or on the go. “Getting hungry while out and frequently resorting to convenience store snacks and restaurant foods is one of the major pitfalls for anyone on a heart-healthy diet,” says Basbaum.

A crockpot eliminates excuses for those that think they don’t have the money, time or patience to make a heart healthy meal. “A hearty, warming, healthy meal in a slow cooker can quickly be put together with simple ingredients such as no-salt added canned beans and tomatoes, frozen plain vegetables, skinless chicken and dried herbs,” says Basbaum. “Put it together in the morning and it’s ready to eat when you get home that evening.”


Looking to start a new fitness routine in the New Year? Be sure to discuss your plans with a physician. Find a UVA primary care physician near you.

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