Health Matters: Giving the gift of healthy living – The State Journal-Register

By Qing Yang and Kevin Parker| State Journal-Register

In a year unlike any other, health and wellness has stood out as a top issue on our minds. Stay safe and healthy has become a common greeting that embodies our anxiety and concern, tempered with a dose of hope and optimism. Maybe more than anything, 2020 has caused us to look for gratitude. During this holiday season, we want to focus on being well and taking care of ourselves and each other. As we search for the best gifts for friends and loved ones, weve come across some wonderful options to promote healthier living.

Yoga Mat

Practicing yoga at home is a convenient and safe way to exercise during the pandemic. A yoga mat is appreciated by anyone from first-time practitioners to expert yoginis. Theres a plethora of virtual classes on streaming platforms and apps. Online fitness communities build accountability and motivation. Besides flow sequences, we use our mats daily for deep stretching, foam rolling and core work.

Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

A pulse oximeter is a small battery-powered device that clips onto your finger and uses red light to measure how much oxygen is in your blood. Blood oxygen level (called oxygen saturation or SpO2) is considered a vital sign, just like your heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. Normal SpO2 is 95-100%. A number below 92% warrants a call to the doctor. Patients with COVID-19 often have decreased SpO2, even if theyre feeling fine. Many dont seek medical care until theyre severely short of breath, but by then, their oxygen level is dangerously low. Monitoring your oxygen level at home lets you catch the early warning signs and get prompt treatment. A pulse oximeter is useful for monitoring other chronic health conditions such as heart disease, emphysema and sleep apnea, too. You can purchase one at a pharmacy or online without a prescription.

Bike Helmet

If you are considering gifting a bicycle, skateboard, scooter, pogo stick or inline skates, then we suggest bundling a safety helmet with it. Helmets not only protect our heads and brains, but also playfully reflect our personalities and style. Weve often admired the dinosaur helmet featuring 3D scales worn by our neighbors five-year-old son! We recommend looking out for CPSC & ASTM certified helmets.

Motivational Water Bottle

Theres no shortage of reusable water bottles out there, but were intrigued with the emergence of motivational water bottles. Available from multiple retailers, these bottles inspire with reminder phrases (keep drinking) and positive affirmations (well done!) to encourage you to drink at least a gallon of water throughout the day. The pandemic has given us a moment, maybe too many free moments, to slow down and do some introspection; one important thing weve realized is the need for more self-care, and for us, it starts with irrigating our body and mind.

Nighttime Lights and Reflectors

The Norwegians have an expression Frilufsliv which translates to free air life it promotes open air living to celebrate time outdoors every day for all ages and in all weather. Spending a few hours outdoors improves our mood and the way we experience the world. As the sun sets at 4:30pm, its important to extend the active parts of the day, even if daytime is dark out. To do this safely, we want to be conscious of and protect ourselves against any possible hazards! We encourage you to consider gifts of clothing reflectors or lights for the runners, joggers and dog-walkers in your life. If its in your budget, then pair it with fleece workout clothes to stay warm and dry while outside.

Ergonomic Seat Cushion

As promoters of health, we discourage a sedentary lifestyle whenever possible, but prolonged sitting has become inevitable with work-from-home and online-schooling. A memory-foam or gel cushion can transform a stiff office or dining chair to give you comfort and support. It can even relieve hip and back pain and prevent bad posture.

Admittedly, these gift ideas are partially influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has given us the opportunity to examine and reimagine our health habits and routines. As we look to the new year, we hope these suggestions will help inspire and reinforce your healthy activities and daily habits.

Qing Yang and Kevin Parker are a married couple and live in Springfield. Dr. Yang received her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is an anesthesiologist at HSHS Medical Group. Parker has helped formulate and administer public policy at various city and state governments around the country. He is formerly the group chief information officer for education with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology. This column is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The opinions are those of the writers and do not represent the views of their employers.

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Health Matters: Giving the gift of healthy living - The State Journal-Register

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