15 Healthy Mother's Day Gifts
Never Mind Tchotchkes—Give the Gift of Health
Your mother gave you the gift of life. This Mother’s Day, return the favor with a present that won’t collect dust or be quickly forgotten. Whether your mom is as fit as your Pilates instructor is, or she could use some gentle urging toward better health, these gifts will show your thoughtfulness and help combat the biggest threats to women’s health: heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Skip restaurant crowds and slow service this year, and treat Mom to a healthy home-cooked meal. Grill or bake fish high in omega-3s, such as mackerel, lake trout, albacore, salmon, or halibut to help lower cholesterol.
Toast walnuts or almonds and toss them into salad—polyunsaturated fatty acids also help keep cholesterol in check. Chopped apple adds color, crunch and fiber to the salad, and staves off cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream.
Warm up whole-grain rolls and serve a healthy side dish of beans—all on your best china and with flowers and candles, of course—for a healthy and memorable Mother’s Day meal.
Raise a Glass to Mom’s Health
Mother’s Day calls for a toast. Choose red wine to salute all Mom has done for you and means to you. Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that may provide a protective effect on blood vessel linings.
To make the toast meaningful and healthy, select a special bottle of red wine from a place she’s visited or has always wanted to see.
Dessert Helps Mom’s Heart and Brain
Round off your healthy Mother’s Day meal with a dark chocolate dessert. Serve it in the form of truffles, pie, cake, cookies, brownies, or mousse to deliver heart-healthy antioxidants. If you choose chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa solids, your treat will contain more stearic acid, a saturated fat that doesn’t raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
The occasional dark chocolate treat also provides phenols, which have been found to inhibit LDL from oxidizing and prevent sticky plaque from building up in the arteries. Dark chocolate may also improve cognitive function. According to a small study, subjects showed improved performance on visual and cognitive tasks, including memory, after eating a chocolate bar.
Plant an Herb Garden
An herb garden offers flavor, fragrance, and color to healthy meals that your mother can enjoy all year long. Fresh herbs bring tang and zest without salt or fat. Toss with pasta, sprinkle in salads, mix with rice or beans, add to soups or stews, and steep in tea.
Consider planting cilantro, basil, mint, rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, or other herbs your mother will enjoy. If she doesn’t have a yard, a window box or pots will do just fine. In your Mother’s Day card, mention the symbolism of some of the herbs you planted: rosemary for remembrance, basil for love, and marjoram and oregano for joy and happiness.
A Moving Mother’s Day
Commit to taking a walk with your mother at a set time each week. Buy her a comfortable and nice-looking pair of walking shoes in a fun color to make the trips extra special.
You will both reap the health benefits of this gift: walking boosts bone and heart health, can help manage chronic conditions like diabetes, and improves mood. Regular exercise also helps increase balance, which can lessen the likelihood of falls in older adults.
Bring Home a Yogini
Arrange for private yoga lessons for your mom. Yoga can help lift your mom’s mood, increase her flexibility and balance, and build heart and bone strength. If she is new to yoga, learning the basics in a private setting is a great way to introduce her to the calming and strengthening effects of this form of exercise. A mom who already enjoys yoga will also appreciate the luxury of improving her practice with individual attention.
Check with a yoga studio in your community to find a registered yoga teacher who has completed between 200 and 500 hours of training.
You Never Forget How
The joy of a shiny new bicycle isn’t just for kids. Going for a spin on a bike will build your mom’s aerobic capacity, and is a great way to lighten mood, improve blood flow, and trim excess pounds (not that you would mention that last bit, of course). Choose a model that suits her size, cycling experience and skill, and the level of comfort you think she needs.
If your mom already has a bike, build her a bike basket. Festoon it with ribbons and flowers, and fill it with cycling essentials: cycling gloves, sunscreen, a sturdy lock, and a helmet if she needs one.
With a bike basket and lock, your mom can use her velocipede to run short errands to the post office, the market, or take a book or magazine to the park to read.
Mom’s No Lightweight
Movie buff mothers can pump up and tone their arms while watching their favorite films. Buy mom a few classics on DVD along with a set of 1- to 5-pound weights or resistance bands.
Curls require minimal exertion, making it easy for Mom to combine her relaxation time with a fitness boost. This type of strength training builds muscle and bone, helps trim fat, and increases stamina.
Health Is a Laughing Matter
Bring the health benefits of humor to your mother with a Mother’s Day gift of tickets to a comedy show or a book that will make her laugh aloud. If you have a photo of a slapstick family moment, write a caption describing the moment, and frame it for your mom.
When you crack your mother up, you induce a process that lowers her stress level, raises her feel-good endorphin levels, and works her heart, lungs, and stomach muscles. Laughing also releases stress-fighting compounds that combat the effects of anxiety on the immune system and act as natural painkillers.
Time with Friends
Socializing improves your mother’s physical and emotional health, and may help her live longer to celebrate more Mother’s Days. People who maintain friendships and socialize may have lower risks of heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Social outings potentially stave off cognitive decline, stabilize blood pressure, and may help prevent depression.
Treat your mother to lunch or dinner with a friend at a new restaurant that serves healthy food. Or, sign her up for a class she has always wanted to take, but was too selfless to make time for herself.
Friends Come in All Forms
An animal pal can help lessen loneliness, drop cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and steady blood pressure. A pet that needs walking offers the chance to get outdoors and exercise, and may enhance your mother’s social contacts.
Even if it’s been a while since you’ve had to ask your mom for permission to do something, you may want to get her OK before you present her with a furry housemate on Mother’s Day.
Writing a Prescription for Health
If loss or illness has saddened your mother this year, a bound journal to write her thoughts and feelings in can be an appropriate and helpful gift. One study of chronically ill people and their family members showed that keeping a daily journal was helpful in managing depression. Another investigation showed that people who wrote about stressful events had lower blood pressure and reported an improved mood.
Smartest Mother in the World
A gift that helps your mother learn something new will bring pleasure and provide potential protection against cognitive loss. Brain training through memory and processing exercises improved cognitive ability in a study involving 2,832 older adults.
Keep your mom’s brain active and challenged with a museum membership, music or singing lessons, crafting lessons, or sessions with a language instructor.
Keep Mom on the Sunny Side—Safely
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. More than 2 million cases are diagnosed each year, many of which could be prevented with sun protection. A pretty broad-brimmed sun hat, a snappy pair of sunglasses, SPF 15 lip balm, and a long-sleeved shirt made with SPF protective material will allow your mom to enjoy being outdoors while dodging the sun’s harmful rays.