Gifts for health
A brand-new year is 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.
Charge 2 fitness tracker
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. We recommend the Charge 2, from Fitbit. This tracker is an update to Fitbit's popular fitness tracker, the Charge, but the Charge 2 has a larger display screen, better activity-tracking options and interchangeable wristbands.
The device tracks the number of steps you take, the floors you climb and the calories you burn every day. It also tracks how much sleep you get automatically, so there's no need to put the tracker into Sleep Mode to gather data on your nightly shut-eye. The screen of the Charge 2 is not always on, but the device has a "lift to look" feature, which means it turns on when you raise and turn your wrist to look at the screen.
The Charge 2 includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, which tracks your heart rate all day long, and conveniently, the tracker syncs with your phone to give you notifications about incoming calls, texts and calendar events right on your wrist.
AVOIN colorlife 27oz. Sport Tritan Fruit Infuser Water Bottle
Fruit-flavored water is always on tap with this water bottle. The Sport Tritan lets you load up the infuser in the center of the water bottle with the fruit of your choice, and then enjoy flavorful water whenever you hydrate. The infuser can also be used to hold tea bags, or removed completely, so the bottle can be used for just water. The bottle is BPA-free, fits into most cup holders and is top-rack dishwasher safe.
Price: $11.99 - $15.00
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).
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.
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.
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.
Price: $13.19 - $22.99
Shine 2 fitness tracker
The slim and fashionable Shine 2 fitness tracker from Misfit automatically tracks many of the same basic metrics that other trackers do — including your steps taken, calories burned and distance traveled — but this tracker is water resistant, so you can take it swimming. The tracker also wins points for being one of the lighter and thinner options among fitness trackers.
The Shine 2 also automatically detects when you've fallen asleep, which is an advance over the original Shine, which had to be put into sleep mode to track sleep. The tracker also syncs with your phone to alert you by vibrating or lighting up when you're getting a call or a text (although the tracker does not indicate who the caller or sender is). You can even control Misfit's smart- home devices from your shine. For example, you can play music or control your lights if you've installed Misfit's Bolt light bulb.
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.
Fitlosophy Fitbook: Fitness and Nutrition Journal
Sure, there are apps for that. But some may want a no-frills, old-fashioned, paper-and-pencil method of tracking diet and exercise habits. This 5.5-inch square notebook includes pages for planning your goals for the week and for logging your food intake, nutrients, water and sleep. There are also daily workout pages to track your strength training, cardio, classes and flexibility. Plus, the book aims to provide motivation: There's a highlighted "reward" spot where you can write down the prize you plan to give yourself for meeting your goals for the week.
Price: $14.97 - $22.95
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.
Price : $144.95 - $149.99
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Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.