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What would it take to make your home healthier and you slimmer? A fridge stocked with organic fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein? Sure. A treadmill? Absolutely. But there are also a few inexpensive gadgets that can help you live better and lose more weight. Stock your pad with these four must-haves. Our experts explain why you need them-and how much you really need to spend.

Home Goods for Healthy Living #1: Digital Weight Scale

You may dread a daily weigh-in, but people who stepped on a bathroom scale every day shed more pounds-between 18 and 27-than those who didn't, according to recent research from the University of Minnesota. Using the scale was equally important for weight maintenance: Participants who weighed themselves daily, post-diet, were 12 to 18 pounds lighter than those who didn't monitor themselves as frequently. Keeping track helps you recognize weight creep, so you can take immediate action.

Splurge or save? Splurge.

Moore recommends investing in a digital scale, which is easier for most people to read. While analog (or mechanical) bathroom scales can cost less than $10, they're not as accurate as digital scales.

The best digital scales:

The Taylor 7506 Glass and Chrome Digital Scale ($30; amazon.com)

Terraillon Lovely Classic Electronic Bathroom Scale ($30; drugstore.com)


Home Goods for Healthy Living #2: The Right Toothbrush

You probably don't have to be told that brushing your teeth twice a day is the best way to prevent decay and gum disease. But you may need to be reminded that proper oral hygiene requires brushing in a gentle circular motion for a full two minutes. It's a habit that will benefit more than your smile: According to a recent Scottish study, people who brushed their teeth twice a day were 70 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who scrubbed up less often.

Splurge or save? It depends.

"Whatever helps you brush correctly so that you're covering all the surfaces of your teeth is the best one for you," says Kimberly Harms, DDS, an American Dental Association (ADA) consumer advisor in Farmington, Minnesota. For the conscientious brusher, an inexpensive manual toothbrush is more than adequate. "Use a soft-bristle brush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance," she says.

A mechanical brush may be worth the extra money for people who are less meticulous about their oral health: Studies show that power brushes do remove more plaque than manual brushes. But no toothbrush can take the place of flossing, warns Harms. "Brushing alone cannot eliminate the plaque between your teeth." (And a container of floss can cost less than $2.)

The best toothbrushes:

Arm & Hammer SpinBrush Pro Clean Sonic Rechargeable Toothbrush ($28; drugstore.com)

Oral B ProfessionalCare 5000 ($160; target.com).


Home Goods for Healthy Living #3: Pedometer

Walkingis a low-impact exercise with loads of health benefits, from loweringcholesterol and blood pressure, to controlling weight and improvingmood, says David R. Bassett, Jr.,Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology,recreation, and sports studies at theUniversity of Tennessee at Knoxville.A pedometer can help you track your foot work and staymotivated. Accordingto a Stanford University study, peoplewho used a pedometer walked an additional2,500 steps a day (about one mile)compared to those who didn't.

Splurge or save? Splurge.

Whatyou need most in a pedometeris accuracy and ease of use. Although you can pickup an old-school modelfor under $5, it relies on apendulum mechanism that senses your hips moving. This means they can accidentally register non-walking movements and inflate your step count. A sensor pedometer is worth the extra cash.

The best sensor pedometers:

Omron HJ-203 Pocket Pedometer ($35; omronhealthcare.com)

New Lifestyles NL-2000 pedometer ($75; thepedometercompany.com)

Home Goods for Healthy Living #4: Humidifier

Dry winter air is not only a nuisance, but a health hazard. The lower the indoor humidity levels, the more likely it is the flu virus will survive and spread, according to a recent study from Oregon State University. Plus, a humidifier will make you more comfortable if you do get sick, soothing symptoms like dry nasal passages, a scratchy throat, and cracked lips-even speeding up healing, explains Jan Gurley, M.D., an internist in San Francisco and the founder of docgurley.com.

Splurge or save? Splurge.

It may be worth spending more for a humidifier with a humidistat. This feature allows the machine to cycle on and off on its own, keeping a steady level of humidity in the room. Gurley recommends cool-mist models, which last longer, and are cheaper to buy and to run than warm-mist ones.

The best humidifiers:

Honeywell Cool Mist Humidifier with Germ Free Humidification (HCM-350) ($70; target.com)

Graco Programmable Cool Mist Humidifier ($75; walmart.com).

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