Give the Gift of a Healthy Heart This Valentine's Day

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It’s 2006, but when it comes to Valentine gift giving, many Americans are living in the past. They still count on the old standbys: a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, some jewelry or an item of clothing. Now there are better gifts to show one’s love for that special Valentine.

It’s 2006, but when it comes to Valentine gift giving, many Americans are living in the past. They still count on the old standbys: a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, some jewelry or an item of clothing. Now there are better gifts to show one’s love for that special Valentine.

According to Ed Mayhew, author of Fitter for Life: The Secrets of 25 Masters of Fitness, “The best gift in 2006, the year of healthy-heart living, is not a heart-shaped box of chocolates, no matter how expensive, but rather a healthy heart.” Mayhew explains, “We owe it to our loved ones to take care of ourselves so we’ll be around to lavish them with love and affection and gifts for decades to come.”

But how to package and wrap the gift of a healthy heart is the question. Here are the answers – the best gifts for 2006:

1.    A single red rose with a note – a written commitment to walk, run, swim, bike, … on a regular basis with one’s Valentine

When Fred and Sandy Kiddy were in their early thirties, they started taking 2-mile jogs to lose 30 to 35 pounds; over time those jogs evolved into longer and longer runs. Now in their mid-sixties, they are still running, and as a result, they enjoy the youthful, lithe bodies usually reserved for much younger folks. From this humble beginning, Sandy went on to become a champion ultra-marathon runner in her forties, setting 16 American Records for races longer than marathon length.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Fred and Sandy

2.    His-and-her membership to the local gym

Virginia’s Frank and Lynne Nelson liked to work out at the local gym. Noticing Lynne’s exceptional strength, Frank encouraged his 40-year-old wife to compete as a powerlifter with his being her coach. As a result , this full-time working mother of 2, at age 44, became the AAU World Powerlifting Champion in the 148-pound class.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Frank and Lynne

3.    A brochure or poster for a weekend getaway or special outing to be enjoyed when Valentine has helped the giver lose 10 pounds

When a friend of Pennsylvania’s Jack Klein, 60, suddenly dropped dead of a massive coronary, this was a wake-up call for Jack to take better care of his heart. He started by forgoing the car as he took care of some errands around town. Gradually he started walking farther and faster until he had lost enough weight to run comfortably and safely. With the support of his wife, Lynne, Jack went from an obese 235 pounds to a svelte 154 pounds, losing 81 heart-stressing pounds in about a year’s time.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jack and Lynne

4.    A heart-healthy cookbook and/or cooking class for two

At age 64 Margery Meyer had a cholesterol reading of 385 mg/dl, arrhythmia (an irregular heart beat), and no competitive swimming experience when her daughter, Marguerite, talked her into taking up Masters swimming. With a much-improved diet, a training program for competitive swimming, and the love and support of her mountaineering husband, Bruce, Margery was not only able to greatly improve her health and energy level, but also, over the next 17 years, she set 50 age-group swimming World Records.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Bruce and Margery

5.    Gift certificates for his-and-her massages redeemable when Valentine has helped giver stay smoke-free for one week

In her mid-forties, Jacquie Core, RN, was a sedentary 2-pack-a-day smoker with a 30-year habit and no interest or experience in the world of athletics or exercise. With the encouragement and cheerleading of her sons (Andy, Matt, and Jesse), by her fifties she had transformed herself into an Ironman triathlete. In a few short years Jacquie had gone from someone who was 35 pounds overweight and struggling to jog just the length of a football field to being a successful ultra-endurance athlete, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles – all in just under 16 hours.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jacquie and sons

This Valentine’s Day give flowers or chocolates again or think outside the box and give gifts that will keep giving for years to come – the 2006 Healthy Heart Gifts.

For a dynamic discussion with author Ed Mayhew about what he has learned from the Masters of Fitness about Healthy-Heart Living, call 540-662-8324 or visit – http://www.FitterForLife.com

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