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Holiday Health: Give Get-Fit Gifts
By: Louise Roach

‘Tis the season to celebrate -- and a time to eat! Most of us gain a few pounds during the holiday season. With family dinners, holiday parties and gift baskets loaded with goodies, who thinks of staying fit?

Instead of giving a pyramid of chocolate, a basket of tempting treats or a bottle of bubbly this year, why not be different? Give your loved ones a Holiday Health Kit to start out the New Year right.

With so many inexpensive or low-cost fitness products available, it’s easy to combine several items into a customized Get-Fit Gift. Louise Roach, marketing director at SnowPack, a New Mexico-based company that manufactures ice therapy kits, has several suggestions:

“If you have someone on your Christmas list who likes to walk or run, think of items like a pedometer, a gift certificate to your local running specialty store, energy bars, a water bottle, a portable CD player, books on stretching, sunscreen, and lip balm. Plus an ice pack just in case they overdo it. Put it all together in a nifty duffel bag and you have a very thoughtful gift.

“Maybe someone you know needs motivation to get up and get going. Why not give a ‘home gym in a bag’? A few suggestions to include are: free weights, a jump rope, resistance bands, workout videos, a yoga mat, a BMI scale, a heart rate monitor, sport drinks, and protein bars. Of course every home gym needs first aid in the form of an ice therapy product to take care of strained muscles. Then wrap it all up in a bright tote bag for giving.

“Several other themes for Get-Fit Gifts could be biking, hiking and backpacking. A visit to your local athletic store can offer many ideas such as a day pack, water carrying system, socks, hats, compass (or GPS system), utility tool, first aid kit, a spa product and destination books.”

With a little creativity, you can put together healthy, useful gifts that will be well appreciated throughout the New Year.

About the Author

Louise Roach has been instrumental in the development of SnowPack, a patented cold therapy that exhibits the same qualities as ice. SnowPack offers two Body-n-Ice Kits that make perfect Get-Fit Gifts by themselves. They’re a great idea for soccer families and active Baby Boomers, plus everyone in between. For more information visit:

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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