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August at last. Time to start christmas shopping!

Marilyn Eveleigh has found the perfect Christmas gift for everyone she knows. It's useful, fashionable and maybe even a little ahead of its time. But will her friends and family, and even her patients, feel the same way?

Amazingly, even though it's only August, I already have my Christmas present list sorted!

I'm sure a lot of you are like me and dread the annual Christmas present fiasco. You know the score - trying to select appropriate gifts for those you love, are grateful to or have a duty towards.

Most of us want to make gift-giving an important gesture, a pleasure that reflects the thought, background and choice we put into it. We select gifts because they convey a message or have a special significance, because they are original and bring pleasure - or better still, are good for the recipients. Other practical considerations are that gifts are easy to transport or send, can be purchased over the internet/mail order, are uncomplicated to wrap, can be easily hidden prewrapping - and won't break if dropped. And of course, we want to pay a reasonable price - or ideally, feel we bagged a bargain.

Well, I have found the perfect gift that ticks the all the boxes above. It suits young and old - so everyone on my Christmas list is getting one! It is fashionable, if not a little ahead of its time. In fact I think patients would find it valuable, as well as those on my list.

It's a pedometer!

Before you groan, log off or dismiss me as weird - think about it. Is this not the perfect little companion to improve health and wellbeing, spurred on by a healthy dollop of curiosity of how many steps are taken in a day?

Evidence supports that taking exercise is good for us. We should each aim for 10,000 steps a day to maintain good physical health and weight, to stimulate cardiac output, support muscle tone and emotional wellbeing. Over this level improves cardiovascular rates, contributes to weight reduction and increases muscular and respiratory function. What a bargain for just walking!

At the risk of being a bore, I'll share with you that I have a pedometer. It has given me some dramatic insight into my everyday exercise and has resulted in some changes in my behaviour. No, I still don't go to the gym - but I do walk more, and I'm more aware of my calorie intake. I now know that on a really lazy day at home I might only cover 2,900 steps, but if I take a 15-minute walk I add about 2,000. Using the stairs at work adds 88 steps but the coffee stop is only 36 steps from my desk. Dancing all night is the only activity that has taken me over my 10,000 target but gardening gets me close. My weight remains the same but my health has improved as I actively seek out more steps to boost my target - which I sadly record at the end of each day!

Obesity is big business for healthcare and for the individuals that literally struggle with it. A quarter of the UK population is obese, and only 32% of the adult population achieve their daily activity targets. NICE has published the evidence for weight management and more physical activity is advocated for all ages.

Exercise does not appeal to everyone - but we all need to walk. A pedometer provides an added dimension to everyday walking, encourages targets and gives the user the smug satisfaction associated with achievement. It is relatively cheap (£10-15), unobtrusive in a pocket or on a belt and is a simple exercise incentive.

I suggest that a pedometer could be a real asset in guiding healthy options - lets hope those on my gift list agree this coming Christmas!

PS. I did 5,998 steps today.

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I think that once the suprise had worn off then yes they would" - Name and address supplied

"Oh definitely, my daughter and son will appreciate it, but I guess it will be a surprise. I need one as well as I took to walking two years ago and have lost 4st. Thanks for the idea" - Naana Limm, Yorkshire

"I think this might be an ideal gift for my dad. He has joined a cardiovascular recovery fitness group, but, like me, is inclined to sit if he gets the chance. Maybe I should get one for me too! Thanks for the suggestion" - Name and address supplied