Only weeks before Christmas, and in a mad rush; you realised your best gift ideas weren’t up to much. You’ve bought for the children, and diminished your wealth; but what do you buy for someone who’s focused on health?
Terrible, clichéd Christmas rhymes aside, buying a suitably techy gift for those obsessed with health and fitness shouldn’t be a chore. Here’s ther MakeUseOf 2015 health and fitness gift guide.
Activity Trackers & Trainers
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. Wearable activity trackers are the obvious choice for anyone who likes to stay in shape and monitor their fitness level from the comfort of a smartphone. It’s also quite possible that the recipient already has one, so best glance at their wrist or drop the word “FitBit” into conversation before pulling the trigger.
Activity monitors are simply that — wearable bands that track your activity throughout the day, with many offering night time “sleep quality” monitor capabilities too. You don’t need to be particularly active to get a kick out of this, and such devices may even encourage users to be more active once their current daily patterns are visualized.
Fitbit are one of the leaders in this space. Their top of the range wearable is the Fitbit Surge ($250), a self-proclaimed “superwatch” with GPS tracking and continuous heart rate monitoring for athletes who are serious about their sport. For less active individuals looking for simple activity and sleep tracking, the Fitbit Charge ($130) will suffice. You can even still pick up former favorite, the Fitbit Zip ($60) which attaches to clothing rather than your wrist.
Jawbone offer similar products, including the revised UP2 ($99) which offers basic sleep and activity tracking, but no heart rate monitoring or GPS tracking. Full-on smartwatches are another popular choice, particularly those from Garmin like the Forerunner 220 ($200) which includes a heart rate monitor and training features.
If training aids sound like a good idea, the Mio FUSE ($130) offers a combination of personal trainer and heart rate monitor, a device that’s designed to be worn during workouts and downtime. Lastly, the Apple Watch Sport (from $349) is a powerful accessory for those already using an iPhone for health and fitness tracking.
Depending on the recipient, a smart scale might not be the perfect gift this Christmas. Nothing says “you’ve put on a few pounds” like buying someone a device that encourages them to watch their weight, but then again if you know someone who’d get a kick out of such a gift then you’ve got a few good choices.
The Fitbit Aria ($110) tracks weight, BMI and body fat percentage alongside other Fitbit data from wearables — it’s perfect if the recipient already has a Surge, Charge or Flex band. For those who aren’t following the wearables trend, Withings WS-50 Smart Body Analyser ($100) does it all with the added bonus of heart rate monitoring and indoor air quality measurements (yes, really).
A few similar alternatives include the multi-user-friendly Wahoo Balance ($80), which focuses on weight and BMI; and the cheaper Xiami Mi Scale ($70) which doesn’t do such a great job of BMI calculation but will track weight in style.
Most smartphone-wielding sporty types track their activities using some sort of app, whereas others use a fitness plan or online training service to keep in shape. These companies have to make money somehow, and that’s usually by offering advanced features in the form of premium subscriptions.
If you can find out what the recipient is already using, that’ll be a huge help — but most offer the ability to gift a year’s subscription, including MapMyRun ($30), Strava ($60) and Endomondo ($20). Unfortunately MapMyFitness and Runkeeper don’t offer this ability, so you may have to improvise if you’d like to gift a subscription for these services.
Instructional training program Fitstar offers a variety of gift packages for both their standard service and yoga over on the Fitstar Store. Of course, most runners don’t run alone — a single Spotify gift card ($30) is good for three months, and an Apple Music subscription can be purchased using an iTunes credit amount of your choosing.
GoPro Action Cameras
Why not give the gift of wide-angle fun this year? Action cameras perfectly complement a range of activites, from hiking and climbing to cycling, surfing, skating, and even walking the dog. They’re small enough to keep in your pocket, tough as old boots and waterproof too.
Top of the range is the HERO4 Black ($499), which shoots 4K video at 30 frames; with the HERO4 Silver ($399) shooting 1080p at 60 frames for slightly less money. Both of these models have a touchscreen and come with waterproof cases and a couple of mounts.
The rather tiny HERO4 Session ($250) provides Silver-like performance in a much smaller package, but doesn’t have a screen or removable battery. Once you’ve picked your model don’t forget to accessorize with a few aftermarket accessories, like the GoPro Fetch ($45) dog harness or GoPro Handlebar and Seatpost mounts ($21).
You can save a lot of money by buying third party GoPro accessories, but be weary of the quality. AmazonBasics have a range of mounts, including a head strap ($7.50), tripod mounts ($8) and floating hand grip ($7).
Dare I say it — hours down the gym and long bike rides can be pretty boring sometimes, especially when using the same equipment and routes. There’s a reason gyms kick out 160 bpm high-energy dance music, but not everyone appreciates it.
Most people use their smartphones for music, but for those who don’t check out our music lover’s gift guide, which includes a few suggestions. I’d add Apple’s newest iPod Nano ($149) to that list, as the Bluetooth connectivity is ideal in an increasingly wireless world.
One of the worst things about listening to music while doing any form of physical exercise is getting the wire caught on something. Furthermore, regular wireless earbuds have a habit of working their way loose. The Jaybud X2 ($170) in-ear headphones hope to solve both of these issues, using Bluetooth and a variety of wear styles.
Plantronics BackBeat ($103) over ear headphones offer similar levels of performance, using a behind-the-neck design and doing away with the microphone found on the Jaybuds.
There are many types of cyclists, from those who ride for sport, to those who conquer single track and mountains, and others who’d rather ride to work to keep fit and save money. These gifts probably apply most to those in the latter category, as well as newbies who are just starting to explore their surroundings on two wheels.
For commuters and all-day touring, a dynamo charger can be a really good idea. For a more extensive range of options, check out our guide to charging your gadgets while riding your bike, but one of our favourites from that list is the Tigra Sport BikeCharge ($120). It’s an incredibly flexible solution tht works with disc brakes and V-brakes, whether you have suspension forks or not.
The BikeCharge also includes built in lights, a 1000 mAh battery (which actually does the charging) and a USB 2.0 port and weighs less than 500 grams once installed.
Another hit with the commuters is a dazzlingly powerful light, something that can not only open up the world of night time riding but also prove to be an invaluable safety precaution. The CatEye Volt 700 ($100) provides a blinding 700 lumens worth of light, charges over USB (even a dynamo hub), and promises to run for 100 hours.
Running is another fairly precise sport — specialist equipment like shoes and clothing are often tied to personal preference, which many runners develop over time as they become more serious about working up a sweat.
Stride sensors can provide all sorts of information about your workout, and even help you improve it. The Polar Stride Sensor ($70) is one such solution that doesn’t require purchasing a new pair of shoes, and instead connects to a smartphone to upload and track your results online. Analyze running speed and distance, cadence and stride length — all to get a better picture of your progress over time.
For a slightly cheaper (and arguably more essential) gift, an armband light could make the perfect stocking filler. This super bright model from Mudder ($13) can be worn as an armband or a belt, and has its own 200 mAh battery which charges via USB.
Finally, for the runner who complains that those smartphone armband holders are too uncomfortable and sweaty, a SPIbelt Sports ($21) running belt should do the trick. They’re specifically designed not to bounce when used during exercise, providing an accessible pouch for your smartphone, cash, cards and keys till you get home.
What will you be buying the health-conscious and fitness-obsessed person in your life this Christmas?