If you have a health- or fitness-minded person on your holiday gift list, it's easy to choose a present that will be appreciated and used. Laura Holmes, editor and chief media director at Gifts.com, says that when health and fitness are top priorities in a person's life -- as evidenced by her weekend 5Ks, mountain biking treks, social media posts about healthy recipes, and yoga and spinning schedules -- you can tap into one of the top gift-giving categories for health-minded people.
Holmes points to the following categories to help you select the perfect gifts:
--Tech. "There are so many cool tech tools to aid the fitness fan in setting her goals and tracking her successes. If she doesn't already have a sleep and activity tracker, this is the perfect gift, as it gives her an overall view of what she's accomplished every day," says Holmes. Fitness and sleep trackers are available as a wristband or a necklace that delivers daily data to an app, showing daily mileage, nutrition and even sleep patterns. You'll even find "smart" water bottles that keep us hydrated on the go and remind us when we haven't met our daily water goal. And would you believe there is a smartfork (HAPIfork) that lights up when the person holding it is eating too fast?
--Yoga. Yoga is mainstream, and top yoga gifts include yoga mats, carryall bags, yoga blocks, and stylish clothing and grip yoga socks. Add in yoga DVDs and gift certificates to your recipient's nearby yoga center, and your friend can personalize her practice even further, perhaps now having the funds to attend a special sunrise yoga or meditation class taught by a visiting notable yogi.
--Cooking. Health-minded gift recipients know that wellness happens from the inside out, so consider health-themed cookbooks and cooking gadgets such as spiral vegetable peelers to help make meal preparation healthier. And small appliances such as yogurt-makers, blenders and even pizza stones help get home-cooked nutrition on the menu.
--Deliveries. A monthly delivery of fresh fruit, veggies and herbs makes healthy cooking convenient, says Holmes, adding that if your recipient is ultra-healthy, she'll probably prefer organic produce, so look into the company's organic specifications before ordering these deliveries in weekly, monthly or quarterly packages.
In addition to these four categories suggested by Holmes, consider some of the other hot fitness gifts this year:
--Slacklining gear. In slacklining, a bouncy, high-tension piece of webbing is stretched between two solid objects -- perhaps trees -- just a few inches off of the ground, and the exercise then available is a form of tightrope walking, which is good for balance, lower body fitness and core work. Slacklining gear is available in sporting goods stores and on sites like REI.com, and online slacklining videos teach techniques for beginner to advanced tightrope walking.
--Balance boards. Balance workouts also come in the form of balance boards, a.k.a. Indo boards: flat boards set atop a round middle piece. The exerciser then stands atop the board, balancing from side to side. On some Indo boards, yoga may also be practiced.
--Jump-ropes. Jumping rope may remind the fitness buff of childhood play, but it's a hard-core workout. And today there are cordless jump-ropes to add some tech to the workout.
--Hands-free dog leash. This gift allows a dog to run alongside his owner, his leash clipped securely to this piece of gear.
--Gift card to an alternative therapy session. This could be an aromatherapy session or an energy healing session with a licensed practitioner, or perhaps an adventure your health-minded gift recipient has been longing to experience.
--Hiking supplies. Fitness-minded friends who hike or camp will enjoy new outdoor activity gear such as a hydration backpack or a personalized flask and carrier. Camping enthusiasts will know the intricacies of top-model camping gear, so if you're not an experienced camper, a gift card to an outdoors store such as REI is a safe bet.
As with any gift, know that there's always a risk that your recipient may return the item. You may have selected something that's not within their fitness abilities, something in a style that's not their personal taste (like a yoga mat in a busy pattern) or a DVD they already own. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers returned more than $46.28 billion worth of gifts in 2013. So it's now considered gift-giving etiquette to include a gift receipt with any present you give.