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I Gifted Fitness Smartwatches to Everyone in My Family for the Holidays—Here’s How They Made Us (and Our Relationships) Stronger

Erin Flynn

If you're anything like me, you view holiday gift-giving as an opportunity to express love (can you guess what one of my love languages is?), which usually translates into many hours pondering the ideal, meaningful gift for everyone on my list.

So when I gifted Fitbit smartwatches to my mom, my sister, and myself (because, self love) a few years ago, it was more than just a high-tech stocking stuffer—it was intended as evidence of my support of their health and wellness journeys, something I knew would mean a lot to them.

At the time, my sister had three kids under 10 years old—so needless to say, she was running short on alone time to dedicate to her wellness habits—and my mom was struggling with feeling like she was glued to her desk all day at work. So I thought, surely a fitness smartwatch will help both of them carve out a little more me-time and feel a little better about their well-being because they're moving more.

And I was right—for the most part. What I didn't expect? All the wellness benefits that had very little to do with tracking steps.

For my sister, her Fitbit helped quantify exactly how much effort she spent running around after her little ones (she racked up lots of Active Zone Minutes each day, without doing "traditional" workouts), which pretty much made her feel like a super mom. And, her kids loved the idea of gamifying movement so much that she ended up getting the Fitbit Ace for each of them—so now instead of feeling like her kids were pulling her away from a daily wellness routine, they were all participating in one together and encouraging each other along the way. A total family win.

For my mom, she loved her Fitbit's hourly reminders to move, and started using them as encouragement to take sales calls while walking back and forth around her office or to step away completely and take a quick walk outside. Not only did her body start feeling better (did you know it only takes about 21 minutes of exercise per day to counteract the negative effects of sitting?), but her stress levels started decreasing as she felt empowered to take real mental health breaks throughout her busy days—which ended up boosting her productivity, not hindering it as she originally feared. And on the days she felt extra stressed even after her movement breaks? She could tap into a two-minute guided meditation to help clear her mind, straight from her wrist.

As for me? I loved the fact that the Fitbit app gave us a way of staying connected, even though I lived in New York at the time and my family was in Virginia. But even from three different cities, we were able to challenge each other in fun competitions and celebrate each other's victories—from hitting our Active Zone Minutes goals, crushing a workout, or just getting enough sleep. (Sleep improvement was another major benefit of my Fitbit—it revealed that I was not getting as much deep sleep as I thought, and then showed me ways to improve it.)

This year (spoiler alert!) I'm upgrading their current Fitbit smartwatches to the Fitbit Sense, which takes all the wellness-boosting features we loved about our original models to a whole new level. The daily Stress Management Score helps you understand how your body is responding to stress, and the Daily Readiness Score tells you whether you're ready for a workout or should prioritize recovery based on insights gathered about your recent sleep, heart rate, and activity levels.

Plus, the Sense comes with a six-month Fitbit Premium membership (which turns tracked data into personalized insights to ensure your wellness routines are really working for you) and a six-month membership to Calm (the buzzy app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation) that I know my meditation-loving mom will be psyched about.

Because here's the thing: Even the strongest people in your life (and I would definitely count my mom and my sister among the strongest women I know) need support, and sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones that encourage that strength. For us, that has looked like cheering each other on as our Fitbit smartwatches have guided us through our wellness journeys, and I personally can't wait to see how the Sense helps us continue to prioritize our well-being and celebrate our strength.

Top photo: Fitbit

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