6 simple, healthful Mother's Day gifts

Consumer Reports News: May 07, 2010 06:08 PM

This week I opened an email touting a Mother's Day plastic-surgery package, complete with an eye lift, lip injections, and cheek implants, as the "perfect" way to make mom look half her age. I promptly deleted it, My mom doesn't want her face frozen in time. She'd be happy with a Humphrey Bogart movie-marathon, quality time with the grandkids, and vegetarian lasagna—that she didn't have to cook for herself. If your mother is anything like mine, here are some simple gift ideas that should put a natural smile on her face:

1) Go out for Greek dinner. There are benefits to eating a Mediterranean-style diet and it's delicious too. Studies have shown that this diet—rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish with some olive oil, red wine, and nuts—lowers heart disease risk, and may keep diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer's disease away.

2) Get out in the back yard. Gardening is a great way to bond with mom, enjoy the outdoors, and shed pounds too. According to the National Gardening Association, 30 minutes of weeding, trimming shrubs or pushing a lawn mower burns around182 calories (for a 180-pound person). And such moderate-intensity exercise, can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce heart disease, cancer, and diabetes risk. So buy her a flowering bush and get digging together.

3) Schedule a massage. Soothing stress and pain relief, need I say more? Here's how to find a spa deal for mom to fit your budget.

4) Help mom pick up a new skill. Learning a new language, taking music lessons, or traveling can sharpen cognitive skills—and help lower dementia risk. In a recent study, MRI scans revealed that regions of the brain responsible for learning were enlarged in London cab drivers, who train for up to two years to memorize thousands of streets and locations. And in another study, researchers from Johns Hopkins and Duke University found that men who participated in mentally and socially engaging activities in midlife had a lower risk of dementia.

5) Grab a gym or yoga pass. Yoga is known for its stress-busting benefits, but it can also help protect the heart, improve sleep habits, and help control pain in people with arthritis, back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Make sure mom knows to chose the right style for her: Ashtanga (also called vinyasa, flow, or power yoga), which involves moving through poses quickly, provides a more strenuous workout, and Iyengar is gentler and helps you achieve the fundamental positions.

6) Give her some LOL's. Treating mom to a comedy show, musical, or funny movie can help her live longer. Studies show that laughing can boost immunity, lower blood sugar, and increase blood flow. And researchers say 15 minutes of hearty laughter could burn up to 40 calories, enough to shed more than 4 pounds a year if done daily. 

Ginger Skinner

What healthful activities do you have planned for Mother's Day? Please share them with us below.

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