The holidays are approaching — and immediately following them is a brand-new year with a new opportunity to commit (or recommit) to fitness and health. You may want to jump-start that process for friends and family with one of the myriad fitness trackers and gadgets on the market, but which one should you choose?
We've combed through the reviews and have even done some of our own testing to pick out great gift options for everyone from swimmers and runners to the sleep-deprived and sunburned. These devices will get your loved ones moving despite dreary Januaries and Februaries still ahead.
- A fantastic fitness tracker: Basis Peak, $149.99
- A rugged watch for rugged people: Suunto Core Multifunction Watch, $130.00-$548.00
- A magic wand to get kids moving: Magic Moves Electronic Wand, $21.99
- Bike speakers for cyclists: Audible Rush, $39.95
- LED art for bike commuters (or kids)!: Monkey Light, $49.99
- A sleek swim tracker: Speedo Shine, $79.99
- A fitness tracker that improves posture: Lumo Lift, $79.99
- Wireless earbuds that monitor heart rate: Jabra Sport Pulse, $199.99
- A wearable to prevent sun damage: June UV detector, $218.41
- The gift of a better night's sleep: S+ sleep monitor, $129.99
Picking a fitness tracker is a challenge, given the number and variety of these exercise-encouraging devices on the market. But don't fret: We've done some of the work for you. And in our testing, the Basis Peak rose to the top.
This tracker looks like a wristwatch, but tracks your movement all day long. Its optical sensors can measure and record your heart rate without a cumbersome chest strap. It's water-resistant for swimming and tracks sleep automatically — no need to put the tracker into Sleep Mode to gather data on your nightly Zzzs. In fact, with its touch screen and automatic displays, this tracker is the best at providing information at a glance.
The Basis Peak can also keep you connected by displaying texts, emails, calls and appointments. It's compatible with most iPhones running iOS 7 or higher, as well as with a wide variety of Android smartphones. That means it should work for almost any tech-savvy person on your gift list.
Suunto Core Multifunction Watch
Fitness trackers may not do the trick for those who like to go off the beaten path. For the climber, mountaineer or hiker on your list, check out the Suunto Core Multifunction Watch instead. This watch features an altimeter, barometer and compass for navigation and a storm alarm to alert the wearer to a rapid drop in barometric pressure (which can mean bad weather is on the way).
The watch also tracks sunrises and sunsets to help keep track of the remaining daylight, and it is water-resistant to 30 meters (about 100 feet).
Magic Moves Electronic Wand
The light-up Magic Moves Electronic Wand will delight kids and their parents alike — because it will help get toddlers moving even when snowy weather confines them indoors. The wand plays a variety of music and 90 recorded commands, such as "Stomp like an elephant" and "Let's dance."
Toys "R" Us lists this toy as a top pick on its "Toys for Differently Abled Kids" list because it boosts listening skills with its auditory commands.
Audible Rush speakers
Wearing headphones while cycling is a safety risk, but music can make a long ride fly by. These handlebar-mounted speakers from Audible Rush offer a good solution. A smartphone fits inside, although the Samsung Galaxy S5 and similarly large models won't fit; for those, a separate clamp to hold the phone on the bike may be needed.
At only 2.3 inches (5.8 centimeters) thick and 7.3 ounces (207 grams), this speaker won't weigh cyclists down. It comes with a yearlong warranty and customer service that seem to keep reviewers happy.
Monkey Light LEDs
These Monkey Light LEDs turn your bike wheels into an eye-catching, rolling light show. At speeds of 10 mph to 40 mph (15 to 65 km/h), these LEDs can create 42 different circular patterns, from stars and swirls to hearts and puppy paw prints. At slower speeds, the lights still turn on, but they don't cover the entire wheel.
The lights attach to your wheels with zip ties, and are powered by a wheel-hub-mounted battery. Their total weight is 2.1 ounces (60 grams). The show is visible from all angles — making it a cool safety feature for kids and bike commuters alike.
Slim and fashionable, the Speedo Shine automatically tracks the same metrics that other trackers do, such as your daily activity and sleep. But this tracker is designed specifically for swimmers: It also tracks your lap count and total distance swum, and is waterproof to 50 meters (about 160 feet). The Shine syncs to the Misfit app, enabling users to track swim data, sleep, steps and calories burned. (The app also includes a photo food journal.) The aluminum-and-LED display is ultrathin and can be worn on a wristwatch strap in the pool, or can be clipped on clothing while on dry land.
The Lumo Lift is a fitness tracker with a twist: It knows when you're slouching.
The Lift makes a great gift for the desk-bound or anyone else who wants to straighten up. Subtle vibrations alert users that they're slouching, reminding them to adjust their posture. The slim, 1.75-inch-long (4.4 cm) white sensor comes with several magnetic clasps and a USB charger, and connects to an app that records posture, steps taken, distance traveled and approximate calories burned each day.
Jabra Sport Pulse
Music and heart-rate monitoring come in a single package with the Jabra Sport Pulse, a set of wireless earbuds that use the pulse in your inner ear to track your heart rate during exercise.
The earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant. They connect to Jabra's Sport Life app, which provides feedback and audio coaching to keep users in their target zone. The earbuds and app also record distance traveled, calories burned and speed. If the runner on your list has her own preferred fitness app, the Jabra Sport Pulse earbuds can sync to independent apps, too.
June UV detector
Sunscreen isn't the only way to keep skin safe. June, a jewel-like UV detector, records daily sun exposure and gives real-time UV index data. The device then gives customized alerts when a user's UV exposure reaches damaging levels based on the user's skin type.
The sensor comes in platinum, gold and gunmetal colors, and can be worn on a leather wrist strap when you want to be stylish, or on a silicon strap for exercise or outdoor activities.
S+ sleep monitor
Need something for an insomniac's Christmas stocking? A device called S+ is a small bedside module that has both a motion sensor to track movement and an audio sensor to track breathing. Though likely not as accurate as a wearable sleep tracker, S+ doesn't have to go to bed with you in order to work. The device records information about light levels, temperature and noise, and gives feedback on ways that you can improve your sleep environment.
S+ also works as a note-taking tool, helping users to get those racing bedtime thoughts out of their heads by letting them record notes via voice or text. In the morning, S+ will attempt to wake you during your lightest phase of sleep, so you wake up feeling more ready and refreshed.