The Best iPhone Sports Gifts for Exercisers

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When you're shopping for gifts for someone who loves to exercise, iPod and iPhone accessories can be treasure troves of gift-giving ideas. Whether it's giving your friend or family member, exercisers love iPhone and iPod gifts like a portable music player to accompany their workouts, a cool new case, or something even more exotic, no matter their preferred sport.

Here are some ideas for sports-related iPod and iPhone gifts for the exerciser in your life this holiday season.

Before any of the other gift ideas make sense, be sure your recipient has an iPod or iPhone. While the iPhone is by far the most comprehensive exercise tool—it sports GPS for run and ride tracking, as well as the ability to run apps—the iPod nano or iPod Shuffle are great gifts for enthusiasts of sports like:

  • Running
  • Bicycling
  • Weight lifting
  • Rock climbing

Small, light, and easy to pack with hundreds or thousands of songs, either iPod model is a welcome workout pal for many.

If you're buying for a runner, give extra attention to the iPod nano, which can be used with Nike + to track things like heart rate and mileage. More on that below.

Learn more: iPod Shuffle review

Learn more: iPod nano review

Everyone needs a case to hold their iPod or iPhone, especially exercisers. Getting an exerciser a good sports case can help them keep their device close their body, dry when it rains (or if there's a lot of sweat), and make it easier to carry on their workouts.

Pay particular attention to sports cases with armbands. Cases with armbands are great, since they free the hands during exercise. One good example of this type of case is the Incase Sports Armband for iPhone, shown here. Expect to spend about US$40 for that case, though sports cases can cost as little as about $15 and as much as around $60.

This US$40 gizmo is a godsend for runners. The Nike+ iPod kit allows you to plug a little device into the Dock Connector on the bottom of an iPod, track important elements of a workout like calories burned, speed, and distance, and then upload your workout data to your computer. It works best with Nike+ shoes, which have a special area for the sensor that works with the iPod device, but it can (I believe) be used with any shoes.

Before you buy, find out what kind of iPod or iPhone the person you're buying for has. Recent models of the iPod touch, nano, and some iPhones have support for the Nike+ device built in, so they don't need the separate kit.

For similar tools from other manufacturers, check out Adidas's $70 miCoach SPEED_CELL or the $50 Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker.

People who are serious about exercise and nutrition don't just track it at the gym. They want to keep track of what they're doing throughout the day, too. Now they can with these fashionable fitness wristbands designed to be worn at all times. The most well-known products are the Jawbone UP series (expect to spend $50-$200, depending on the model) and the Fitbit line ($100-$250). Both let the user track the number of steps they take each day, the calories they burn, food eaten, and, with the Jawbone and Fitbit models (though not necessarily competitor models), sleep habits. Both bands interact with apps and online reporting systems to allow the exerciser in your life to see trends and fine-tune their habits and workouts.

Exercisers serious about tracking their results no doubt already spend a lot of time with their scales and tools to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI). Thanks to some iOS-integrated, Wi-Fi connected scales, that tracking is now much easier. The Withings Smart Body Analyzer, shown here, tracks weight, BMI, lean and fat mass, heart rate, and much more. Many Wi-Fi-compatible scales also offer apps and online tools that the scale can transmit data to so that your exerciser can track their improvement. Expect to spend around $150 for the Withings model.

Runners especially will enjoy having these lightweight devices to track their heart and pulse rates (though they can work for other cardio-centric exercises like cycling, too). The Wahoo TICKR X model, shown here, tracks all kinds of workout data, such as heart rate, calories burned, and workout time. It can also add in motion stats like cycling cadence. It then transmits all this data to an iPhone app. Especially cool about this model is its ability to store workouts even when the app isn't nearby, so no data is lost. The Wahoo TICKR X costs around $100; other options can cost about 25% more or less, depending on their features.

Cyclists who are serious about tracking their speed, distance, and improvement will enjoy an iOS-aware cycling computer that helps them chart their rides. These devices, like other app + hardware combinations, include some hardware you install on a bike that transmits data to an app that records rides. The Wahoo Fitness RFLKT, pictured here, runs about $100 and is compatible with some of the most popular cycling apps, such as Cyclometer, Map My Ride, and Strava.

We've gotten to a point where even our basic sporting goods—soccer balls, baseball bats—have electronics in them that help athletes improve. These devices can analyze form and technique, provide stats on usage, and help athletes excel. One example of this is Adidas' miCoach Smart Ball (about $200), which uses an array of sensors to track data on ball speed, how it spins, where players kick it, and flight trajectory. All of this data is sent by to an app for analysis, of course.

Other devices for other sports include:

As the Internet and apps become part of our lives even when we're not in front of the computer, some pretty amazing products are appearing. One such product is the Oakley Airwave Goggles ($400-$650). These are ski goggles, but they're a lot more than that, too: They have a heads-up display in the goggles that can display all kinds of data about your recipient's runs as they ski. This data includes their speed, the number of jumps they take, and how much time they spend in the air. They can even control the music they're listening to and see incoming calls and text messages. Your recipient needs an iPhone with them when they're skiing, but if they've got that, their ski trips will change forever.

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Running Apps

Runtastic GPS app
Runtastic GPS app. image copyright Runtastic

Great workout playlists aren't the only thing that iPods offer exercisers. For iPod touch and iPhone owners, apps can also help make workouts more effective. The iPhone apps for runners not only offer run tracking, but also use GPS and reporting to help the people on your gift list take their exercise to the next level. Check out these apps:

Learn more: Our picks for the Best Running Apps

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Cycling Apps

MapMyRide
MapMyRide. image copyright MapMyFitness

If your budget doesn't allow for the $150 iBike cycling computer, check out these apps for cyclists. All the apps use the iPhone's GPS to track routes and distance and none will set you back more than $10. Check out these apps:

  • Cyclemeter GPS (Free - Download at iTunes)
  • Endomondo (Free - Download at iTunes)
  • MapMyRide+ ($2.99 with in-app purchases - Purchase at iTunes)
  • Strava (Free with in-app purchases - Download at iTunes)
  • VeloPal (Free - Download at iTunes)

Learn more: Our picks for the Best Cycling Apps

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Fitness Apps

Full Fitness app
Full Fitness app. image copyright Health Xperts Inc.

Just as there are a plethora of iPhone apps for runners, devotees of other types of exercise will find apps to assist them. We've reviewed one such app, iFitness, will help exercisers add muscle and cut fat, but there are many other options, too. Check out these apps:

No matter what kind of Apple device people have or what sort of exercise they prefer, they always need a good soundtrack. Help them get that soundtrack by keeping them in good music that they'll love with an iTunes Gift Card, which they can use to buy songs or subscribe to Apple Music (if they prefer another music service, like Spotify, skip the iTunes Gift Card and just get them a gift subscription). A gift card lets your recipient buy exactly the music they want, while a streaming music subscription gives them access to millions of songs whenever they have an Internet connection.