These fitness gadgets, including digital heart rate monitors, digital jump ropes, gaming systems and more, will help your family get—or stay!—in shape. Plus, get healthy eating tips, exercise ideas, and more ways to shape up with Parenting’s Fit Generation 2011!
New moms looking to get back into non-elastic pants ASAP will love being reminded that taking care of an infant burns plenty of calories. This clip-on device follows every revolution of your stroller tires to track the miles you put in making diaper runs, going to well-baby visits, and taking baby to meet the neighbors. The display shows speed and distance, daily mileage, and temperature–so you know when it’s time to get out the baby blanket.
$54.99 at galtbaby.com
Any number of gaming systems are marketed as “fun for the whole family,” but this one really is (if you don’t believe us, just check out this video). Parents will love at-home fitness options like The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout and personalized workouts of Your Shape, and kids will break a sweat showing off their moves with Dance Central. Bonus: Since your body and voice control Kinect, you’ll never lose the controller in the couch cushions.
$299.99 at microsoft.com
Wobble Deck Balance Board
We’re not saying they’ll never skin another knee, but this electronic balance board makes working on balance, reaction times, coordination, and reflexes seem like fun. For kids ages 5-11.
$34.99 at toysrus.com
Jumping rope can burn more calories per hour than jogging or biking, making it the perfect exercise for time-pressed parents. But at-home jumping presents a danger to anything nearby–the dog’s nose, your favorite vase, or curious toddlers. Enter the JumpSnap, a wireless jump rope that tracks calorie burn, workout time, and number of jumps per sweat session. For further motivation, it comes with 4 DVD workouts and handle weights.
$39.95 at jumpsnap.com
These cool-looking just-for-kids pedometers turn physical activity into a game–and a competition to win fitness-related prizes and other rewards. Coming soon: GeoPalz will email parents a weekly progress report on how their kids are doing, with suggestions for how to encourage them.
$19.99 at geopalz.com
SportCount Finger Lap Counter
The pool is the ultimate getaway from the hubbub of a houseful of kids, but it’s easy to lose track of how many soothing, calorie-burning laps you’ve put in. This super-handy lap counter slips over one finger so you can easily track your workout without taking up any room in your over-stuffed gym bag.
$23 at swimmerstuff.com
Splurge on the adventure-sports junkies in your family with a mountable HD cam to record every terrifying-slash-exhilarating moment from the point of view of the biker, snowboarder, skier, or skateboarder. It comes with editing and sharing software, and maybe–just maybe–tweens will find family trips newly enticing when they can share their adventures with friends back home.
$251.94 at amazon.com
50-Foot Snowball Launcher
It’s tough enough shooing kids outside during the summer. In the winter, it can prove impossible. Get them excited for cold-weather fun with a new twist on the old-fashioned snowball fight: a snowball blaster that adds a long-range element to their battles.
$29.95 at hammacher.com
Solio Rocsta H1000 Solar Charger
While “getting away from it all” for a weekend of hiking and camping certainly boosts physical and mental health, roughing it doesn’t have to mean going completely off the grid. Dad’s GPS, Mom’s camera, and the kids’ phones and iPods can all hook up to this carabiner-clip solar charger, which powers more than 3200 different devices sans electricity.
$79.99 at solio.com
This unobtrusive, sleek, easy-to-use, and–let’s just say it–cute little device tracks your every move with the same 3D technology that powers a Wii. It counts steps and motion, and tracks calories in and out each day to help you reach your fitness goals. Unlike similar (often bulkier) devices, you can wear Fitbit on a bra strap or in your pocket, and at night, on a wrist band to track your sleep patterns. Best of all, it uploads data to a personal tracking website wirelessly each time you pass by its base station, which is a huge time saver.
$99 at fitbit.com
Knog Frog Bike Lights
Encourage your kids’ love of cycling while easing your worries about evening rides with these funky bike safety lights. Your kids will love the look–and drivers will see them coming 600 meters away.
$17.95 at knog.com
Garmin Forerunner 410
Workout junkies who love data will be instantly addicted to this one easy-to-wear GPS sport watch that does it all: records your time, pace, distance, heart rate, and elevation — and even shows you the way home if you get turned around. When you finish a workout, it wirelessly uploads data and performance, so you can review your route and time. Best of all, you can create more than one training page for different members of the family.
$374.95 at rei.com
Garmin Approach G5
Help Dad take a few swings off his handicap and make the most of his (now-limited) time on the links with a golf GPS, which measures shot distances to show the exact yardage to fairways, hazards and greens, and doubles as a score tracker for groups of up to four.
$299.99 at amazon.com
Polar Heart Rate Monitor
Let’s face it, wireless devices are not perfect for your Zumba or spinning class, where other people’s signals can interfere. This monitor eliminates interference and shows your heart rate, per-session energy expenditure, and whether you’re in your target zone.
$105 at amazon.com
Withings WiFi Body Scale
This scale–which automatically recognizes and tracks up to eights users–measures both weight and BMI, and sends data to track the evolution of your weight to a secure website, as well as to your iPhone. If you’re brave, and find motivation in public accountability, the scale can send automatic updates to Twitter or Facebook.
$159 on amazon.com
Plug your family into a motivational running community–or even challenge each other–with the SportBand. This gadget tracks distance, pace, time, and calorie burn, and opens the door to the world’s largest running club (nikeplus.com), where you can log and review your workouts, get advice, or challenge your friends and family to set and exceed goals.
$59 at amazon.com
Swimming is the perfect exercise for pregnant women or parents with increasingly touchy joints, but staring at the black line can get old in a hurry. Make your laps fly by listening to your favorite music on this waterproof MP3 player, which uses bone conduction for sound to eliminate that “muffled” underwater feeling. The controls are right on the earpiece for easy access.
$102.95 at amazon.com
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
So Dad’s an Ironman? The ultimate athlete deserves the ultimate watch, and this one does it all: tracks heart rate, speed, distance, and more. It’s also waterproof and transitions easily from water to bike to run. One cool feature: it can be set to vibrate if his heart rate or speed drops too low, letting him know it’s time to kick it up a notch.
$399.99 at amazon.com
It doesn’t have a flashy name or bells and whistles, but this simple-to-use device–which tracks two things, heart rate and calories burned–is affordable and is perfect if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a houseful of too-powerful gadgets, or are just learning how to use fitness equipment.
$46.04 at amazon.com
Haier Trainer MP3 Player
Roll your music and fitness into one: the Haier Trainer is an MP3 player and radio that doubles as a heart rate monitor and pedometer.
$56.24 at buy.com
Wii Fit Plus
The original family fitness gaming system recently upgraded. The game now comes with more yoga and strength activities, skateboarding, an obstacle course, and new personalization options to help different family members craft daily workout plans. At the end, you can see how may calories you burned while you were having fun jumping around the living room.
$99.99 at amazon.com
Gruve Personal Activity Monitor
If your main activity is chasing around kids under 5, this is the gadget for you. Gruve monitors all your “non-exercise” activities during a day–pulling the kids in a wagon, vacuuming, washing the car–and tells you how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight. Each day as you move closer to your activity goal, a light on the monitor moves from red to green to let you know if you’ve been active enough, or if you need to do a few quick jumping jacks before bed.
$179.95 at amazon.com
This sophisticated and incredibly accurate armband can sense how active your muscles are, how hard you’re working, and even when you’ve broken a sweater. It tracks your daily activity and calories burned–and syncs up to your smartphone so you can track workoutsa nd input food-diary info.
$199 at 24hourfitness.com
Clip this gadget onto your waistband and watch as it counts steps and calories burned. It even assessed your sleep pattern (which studies have linked not only with good health but also with weight) and features a digital flower that grows the more exercise you get.
$99 at fitbit.com
Little gamers now have something that tracks steps (how vigorously your kid is exercising) and wirelessly syncs with the Nintendo DS Pokemon game–which rewards all that activity by unlocking special items and routes in the game. Choose from the Pokemon HeartGold or SoulSilver games.
$40 each at toysrus.com
Polar FT40 Heart Rate Monitor
The gold standard in fitness training. We love how intuitive this one is to use. It has all sorts of features, like showing you how your aerobic fitness improves over time and giving you not only calories burned but percentage of fat you’re melting. The chest-strap transmitter is one of the most comfortable we’ve worn.
$180 at polarusa.com
For Big Kids: Xbox 360 with Kinect
Appropriate for: Ages 4+
The Xbox 360 with Kinect has revolutionized video gaming thanks to a sensor that works via facial and skeletal recognition. Kinect senses every movement as your body controls the games—in other words, you're the remote control! Even young kids get the hang of it quickly, making it something the entire family can do together.