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Healthy Giving = Healthy Living

December 6, 2010

DENVER - Everyone has heard of healthy living, but how about healthy giving? Some local organizations have tips for helping Colorado keep its ranking as the leanest state in the nation.

Maren Stewart is president and CEO of LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit that promotes healthy eating and active living. She suggests thinking about experiences, rather than things, when purchasing holiday gifts.

"Give any kind of activity that somebody either enjoys doing already or hasn't done. Often, that's a great motivator for people to try yoga or to try a gym."

She says even video games can have health benefits, such as the new interactive games where participants dance or exercise via the console. Another healthy option is the gift fruit basket, Stewart adds. It sometimes gets a bad rap, but often contains healthy fruits like oranges or grapefruit that aren't grown in Colorado.

Holiday parties and celebrations offer their own sets of challenges, because they're often about indulgence. In Fort Collins, LiveWell obesity prevention specialist Jessica Hinterberg has put together a plan for area schools looking for healthy celebration options. One idea is to include activities that can help decrease holiday stress.

"Stress reduction has been a really popular component. I have one school that's doing a candlemaking event to make something fun but also to lower stress and just build support among each other."

Hinterberg also recommends offering healthy food at holiday celebrations, like fresh fruit and vegetables or low-fat food and drink options in addition to high calorie snacks and drinks, so partiers have choices.

Stewart says it's important not to forget to make time for exercise during the hectic holiday season.

"Be really cognizant of taking advantage of opportunities to incorporate small steps, of encouraging physical activity over the next month when we are all tending to enjoy the holidays and overindulge a little bit."

One way LiveWell Fort Collins encourages healthy activities is through events like the Kris Kringle Jingle, a family fun run in Fort Collins that benefits area schools.

The "F as in Fat Issue Report 2010" listing Colorado as the leanest state in the nation can be found at http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2010/Obesity2010Report.pdf.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO