6 last-minute healthy holiday gifts

Consumer Reports News: December 18, 2010 09:08 AM

While the economy continues to improve, consumers remain cautious in their spending this holiday season, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. So why not stretch that dollar even further by giving the gift of good health?

Here, our six money saving  “best of” picks for the  health-conscious shopper based on 2010 Consumer Reports tests and surveys.

1. Electric toothbrush. Yes, give the gift of plaque removal. These provide a vibrating and/or spinning alternative to manual brushes, and they’re small enough to fit in a stocking. We tested 10 electric models and found that half of them are worth trying. And one, Arm & Hammer’s Spinbrush Pro Clean Sonic, costs only $15 (plus $5 for each replacement head), a fraction of what we paid for some other models.


2. Water carafe. A home water filter can be an expensive endeavor, and our tests found that some filtering carafes remove contaminants as well as top-rated undersink, faucet-mounted, and reverse-osmosis models, and without any required installation or plumbing changes. The best choices: The Clear2O CWS100A ($30) and Brita Smart Pitcher OB39/42632 ($32).

3. Bathroom scale. OK, it’s not exactly sexy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of weighing yourself, you at least want to know the number you’re getting is accurate. The top four scales in our recent tests, all digital, were on-target within plus or minus 1 pound at least 97 percent of the time. And the very top performer, the Taylor 7506, costs only $35, just over half the price of some pricier models we looked at. The two analog (dial) scales we tested scored dismally for accuracy, so stick with digital.   

4. The gift of moisture. A home humidifier can return dry indoor winter air to a less dessicating state, a favor for which your eyes, throat, skin, and—if you suffer from asthma—lungs will be most grateful. Among the recommended models from our test: The Safety 1st Ultrasonic 360 ($30) and Sunpentown SU-4010 ($90), both of which fit on a tabletop. Kids might like the Crane Penguin EE-865 40 ($40), which, true to its name, is shaped like a penguin and also scored well. Use our guide to figure out which type (tabletop or console, warm mist or cool, ultrasonic or evaporative) is best for you.

5. Heart-rate monitor. This can help you optimize your workout by keeping your ticker in the target zone. And you can use them not just for walking, running, and cycling but also for swimming. Best Buys from our recent tests of 13 models: the Timex Personal Trainer 5G971 ($50) and the Omron HR-100C ($40), both of which you wear around your chest (they then transmit your heart rate to a wristwatch, a boon for runners or cyclists since you don’t have to touch anything to get a reading).

6. Walking shoes. And make them Asics. As with our earlier tests of all-purpose athletic shoes, kicks from that brand—specifically, the Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo ($100)—scored at the top of our Ratings of both men’s and women’s walking shoes. Don’t want to shell out a whole Benjamin for walkers? We found some very good performers for as little as $20 for men, $28 for women.

Jamie Hirsh, associate editor

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