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Every December, as we finish the last of the leftover turkey, patients begin to talk about the holiday season and gift shopping. This conversation invariably leads to suggestions for gift ideas related to health, exercise and fitness. The suggestions below offer a wide variety of fitness related gifts, some expensive and frivolous and others reasonably priced and practical. I hope it makes your shopping a little easier. 

1. Dry Tech Exercise Clothing

Dry Tech is the best thing that has happened to exercise apparel since “jogging suit” was donned by all the “cool dudes” in the 70’s and 80’s . It is has great style and even better function. The specially made material is light weight and breathable and wicks moisture from the skin to the outer layers. Therefore, it will not get heavy with sweat which can weigh you down and cause friction with your skin which can lead to chaffing and blisters. The following exercise apparel is now available in Dry Tech:

NOTE: Shoes are a very important aspect to safe and comfortable exercise but are unique for running and other specific sports (tennis, basketball). Sneakers may be too difficult to buy for someone else. A gift certificate to an athletic shoe store (Scranton Running or Dick’s) may be a better choice.

2. Trekking Poles

For walking and hiking enthusiasts, trekking poles can be the perfect gift, especially for those over 50 and when on uneven terrain or inclement weather. The research is compelling…less stress on the lower back, hip, knee and ankle, as well as improved balance and safety. Leki, Black Diamond, and Trekology are good name brands while LL Bean and REI are reputable companies.

3. Exercise Mat

An exercise mat is helpful if you decide to exercise at home. Also, a required equipment for participating in yoga or Pilates classes is a mat.

4. Hand-Held Dumbbells and Sandbag Leg Weights

These are essential for those interested in home exercise. For the average beginner, 3-5-8-10 pound (two of each) weights will be adequate.  Dumbbells are good for shrugs, biceps, and triceps, bent over rows and lats, and lunges. Incremented and stackable dumbbells are also available by Bowflex SelecTech 552 (5-52 pounds for $299). and NordicTrack $189. Sandbags, which can be purchased as graduated weights from 1 to 5 pounds, are good for leg extensions, hamstring curls, hip hikes and hip abduction.  

5. Resistance Bands

These cheap and versatile bands are also essential for a home program. The bands come in different colors to represent the amount of resistance with yellow being the easiest and black the most difficult. They are useful for upper and lower body. For specific band exercises visit a previous column in “Health & Exercise Forum” at The Times Tribune or

6. Aerobic Equipment

NOTE:  Peloton, NordicTrack, SoulCycle are some of the companies that offer interactive exercise programs (usually through an internet subscription) for aerobic exercise using bikes, treadmills, ellipticals or rowing machines.

7. Fitness Club Membership
8. Personal Trainer Gift Certificate or Home Virtual Trainers

This can be an opportunity for someone to either get the proper advice from a professional to begin a fitness program or to revamp and tune up an old stale program. Word of mouth is a good way to find a reputable certified trainer.

Peloton – ($2,495 bike, $3,495 treadmill); Mirror Exercise – ($1,495); Tonal ($3,995.) FightCamp – ($1,219.); Forme Studio ($2,495.)

9. Electronic Fitness Monitors or Wearable Tech Monitor

These devices use GPS technology to help the user track their activity to get more out of their exercise routines. They monitor activity, heart rate, distance, location, calories, and more. Some examples are:

10. Nutritional Counselor Gift Certificate

Sometimes you need professional help to get started and stay focused. Just as with a personal trainer, a qualified and licensed nutritional counselor will assist you in establishing a safe and effective program to meet your nutritional and dietary goals. Again, ask around to see who has a good reputation or who may be a good fit for the recipient of your gift.

These gifts can be purchased at most local sporting goods stores or on-line.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice, located in Scranton and Clarks Summit, and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, check out our exercise forum!