Arrow-right Camera


Gift of health keeps giving

If I could give you one thing for the upcoming holidays, it would be perfect health.

Unfortunately, it is not something that I can give to you or that you can give to anyone else. But you can give a gift of health that will be joyfully received.

First, you have to listen for clues to point you to the right gift. Listening for “I need to lose 10 pounds,” or “I need to go to the gym more often” will get you nowhere.

The kinds of clues you need to listen for are less obvious and more specific – for instance, “I’d really like to try snowshoeing,” or “I wish I had time to go to the gym more often,” or “Gee, salsa dancing looks like it could be fun.”

Picking up on clues like those will help you come up with gifts like babysitting time, lessons, massages, athletic gear or membership renewals.

Babysitting is a great gift for the parent who feels like they do not have time to go for a run or take a yoga class at the gym. You can give your time as a gift or make arrangements with a babysitter for once or twice a week for six months.

Babysitters are not cheap, so if someone asks you what so-and-so wants for Christmas, you can invite that person to chip in with you.

Buying gear can be tricky, and you have to be sneaky so you can get the correct size and then hide it successfully until the big day. Sometimes enlisting the help of someone else to ask about sizes or preferences can make it easier and less obvious.

You can also pick gear that does not require a size, like a headlamp or walking poles for snowshoeing.

Do your homework about what is out there and ask questions of the sales staff to be sure you pick the gear best suited to the person for whom you are buying it. Since it is a gift, you might want to be sure the store will allow exchanges if you miss the mark.

I still have the snowshoes my husband gave me for Christmas and I look forward to breaking them out each winter, heading to the mountains and seeing some awesome scenery as we trek around.

One of the most rewarding challenges is to learn something new. Dance lessons, ski lessons, climbing lessons, snowboard lessons, golf lessons, karate lessons or any other kind of lessons for an activity in which someone is interested make a stellar gift.

A gift of lessons might be even more well-received if it is lessons for you with your friend or family member together.

Local classes for lots of activities can be found at, or you can call Spokane Parks and Recreation (509-625-6200). There are also classes offered at some sporting goods vendors, at local ski areas, or through clubs.

Getting out and having a great time together learning a fun, new activity is a terrific way to say you really care.

A professional massage is much more than just relaxation or an indulgence. It really is a gift of health, since massage therapy can help with back pain, tension headaches, osteoarthritis and anxiety.

Be sure to find a massage therapist or spa that offers more than one type of massage and will let the person receiving the gift choose which type they want to get. Make sure the massage therapist is licensed and ask around for referrals if you don’t have a particular place in mind.

A gym membership renewal can be a great gift for someone who already goes to the gym regularly, but might be contemplating canceling because of hard times.

One year we bought a punch card for our friends to have 10 visits to the climbing gym. You could also do this for paintball, the ice skating rink or some other fun activity.

Staying fit boosts the immune system, cuts down on stress, reduces heart attacks, improves depression, decreases the risk of cancer and feels great.

What could be a more thoughtful, kind and rewarding gift than that?

Dr. Alisa Hideg is a family medicine physician at Group Health’s Riverfront Medical Center in Spokane. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Today section. Send your questions and comments to

Click here to comment on this story »