Fitness chat: gift ideas for the active crowd

Dear Stephanie and Bruce: I have someone on my gift list who has started a healthy habit of physical activity. I want some ideas to support her progress. Please provide recommendations for something that she may like and find helpful. Michele, age 42

Dear Michele: You are truly a dear friend for wanting to buy a gift that will bring lasting joy for others. Gifts which promote health and wellness benefit the receiver and all of the family and friends of this special person. It reminds us of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how George Bailey learns that he made a significant impact on the lives of others.

There are so many fitness gadgets and gear that a person can buy; however, we favor the smart and practical choices. Here are a few to consider:

1. The Fit Bit. The Fit Bit is an electronic activity counter that measures steps, distance and calories. It is simple to set up and it automatically sends data to your computer, tablet or smart phone. The also have a model that tracks your sleep patterns and provides data on the quality of your sleep. We know several people at the YMCA who report that the Fit Bit has kept them motivated to seek physical activity on days when they needed a nudge.

Expect to spend $60 to $130 depending on the features.

2. A heart rate monitor watch. A heart rate monitor watch measures heart rate information. Actual heart rate information is a more accurate indicator of the intensity of exercise rather than perceived exertion. Many of the heart rate watches require a heart rate strap with a sensor that sends heart rate data to the watch. The strap is worn on your chest, similar to a belt and may necessitate a few days of use to find the right fit. Expect to spend $50 to $150 depending on features.

3. A running watch. A running watch is a digital watch that has a stop watch and lap counter. There are also models that track distance and pace for walking or running through a GPS link. Expect to spend $40 to $500 depending on features.

4. A yoga mat. A yoga mat is a great gift for those who participate in yoga or Pilates and those who actively stretch at home or at the gym. Having your own mat expresses individuality and mitigates the spread of bacteria. Expect to spend $20 to 40 depending on style and brand.

5. I-Tunes gift card. One of our favorite to be used for buying music to work out to, or an inspirational movie or book.

We hope these suggestions help you give the perfect gift. Best wishes for your success.