Newswise — Searching for the perfect holiday gifts? This year, give your loved ones the gift of health. Saint Louis University doctors have 10 unique gift ideas that are sure to please even the hardest-to-shop-for on your list.

No. 1 – Workout Attire for Your Favorite Mom-to-Be. Healthy expectant moms should stay physically active, says Raul Artal, M.D., chair of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University. He suggests maternity exercise clothes as a holiday gift. “Pregnancy is a wonderful time for behavior modification because most women are highly motivated to make the healthy lifestyle changes that protect the health of their babies,” says Artal, who is the lead author of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ guidelines on exercise for pregnant women. Among his favorite exercise options for those who haven’t been bitten by the fitness bug: a brisk walk for about a half hour a day.

No. 2 – Sudoku Puzzle Book for Grandpa or Grandma. Exercise your brain to stay mentally sharp, says John Morley, M.D., director of Saint Louis University’s Center for Aging Successfully. “Just as daily exercise strengthens certain muscle groups, mental exercises will strengthen and enhance your mental ability,” says Morley, who is co-author of the new book, “The Science of Staying Young.” Like the logic reasoning game Sudoku, crossword puzzles, video games, chess and challenging literary classics are great gifts that encourage a fun workout for the brain.

No. 3 – Yoga Lessons for Anyone on Your List. Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on mind and body alignment. It’s also a great gift for anyone who needs a break from everyday stresses or wants to improve flexibility and strength, says Victoria Cornelius, M.D., an associate professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine. “Yoga has something to offer for everyone,” Cornelius says. “With so many styles, yoga can offer a powerful workout, stretching, or even help you recover from an injury.” Are yoga lessons out of your holiday budget? Cornelius suggests meditation CDs or eye pillows, which are typically used in yoga to encourage relaxation and are filled with scents such as rosemary, chamomile or lavender.

No. 4 – Mediterranean Cookbook for Mom and Dad. This Christmas, show mom and dad that you care with a gift that’s good for their heart. According to Melda Dolan, M.D., an associate professor of cardiology at Saint Louis University, Mediterranean dishes are delicious and healthy because they limit red meat and combine fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and olive oil, which is a better option than vegetable oil or butter.

No. 5 – Electronic Toothbrush for the Kid with Everything – Strapped for gift ideas for children who seem to have everything? Combining good oral hygiene and cool technology, an electronic toothbrush is gift your children will appreciate. According to Douglas Miley, D.M.D, M.S.D., director of the periodontics program at the Saint Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education, kids are more likely to brush their teeth with an electronic toothbrush because it’s not just a regular toothbrush – it’s a fun gadget. Because many electronic toothbrushes come with a timer, they’re also more likely to brush longer and more thoroughly.

No. 6 – Sunglasses for Your Teen. Think winter isn’t a time for sunglasses? Think again, says Thomas Porter, O.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at Saint Louis University. Sunglasses play a vital role, all year-round, in protecting the eyes from ultraviolet radiation, which can cause cataracts and even certain types of eye cancer. When looking for sunglasses, make sure they’re labeled as offering UV protection; some brands do not. Even though holiday weather is often cold and gray, some cool designer shades can make a terrific holiday gift or stocking stuffer, Porter says.

No. 7 – Pedometer for a Friend Who Wants to Get Moving. Know someone who’s trying to start a simple exercise program? A pedometer, which counts each step a person takes and the distance they’ve walked, makes a perfect present for someone who’s trying to be more active, says Mark Reinking, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the department of physical therapy at Saint Louis University. Used originally by sports and physical fitness enthusiasts, pedometers – which are typically attached to a belt – are now becoming popular as an everyday exercise measurer and motivator. Perhaps Santa himself may find one useful, Reinking says.

No. 8 – Active Video Games for Kids. Your children want to play video games. You want them to go outside and get some exercise. Now there’s a solution you both can love. Active video games, such as Dance Dance Revolution, the Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero, force players to get off the couch and burn calories, says Ken Haller, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University. In fact, research shows that active video game players burn up to twice as many calories as their couch-potato friends.

No. 9 – Appetizer Plates for a Friend Resolving to Lose Weight. With wine glasses that look like fish bowls, super-sized fast-food combos, and king-size candy bars, it’s understandable how we have lost sight of normal portion sizes, says Jennifer Ebelhar, R.D., an assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University. “Research shows the larger our plates, the more we pile on and the more we eat,” she says. “Appetizer-sized plates are a great gift for anyone trying to lose weight, because they help us control our portions by appearing full.” However, this gift comes with a warning: make sure your friend has mentioned that he or she is trying to lose weight and is looking for support!

No. 10 – Topical Antioxidants for that Special Person on Your List. Winter can be tough on skin, particularly the face. That’s why topical antioxidants such as Prevage or Revale make a great holiday gift, says Natalie Semchyshyn, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University. These prescription-strength lotions, which do not require a prescription but are available only from your physician, contain natural compounds that protect your face against damage from such things as pollution and ozone, radiation from the sun and second-hand smoke. Antioxidant lotions reverse signs of aging and protect skin from further damage – a gift bringing a nice holiday glow that could last for months and years to come.


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