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7 back-to-school fitness products for a healthy school year

Stay healthy, fit and happy with these picks.

Buying gifts for people who basically live at the gym (or their makeshift home gym, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) is hard. It's particularly difficult to buy gifts for fitness enthusiasts when you're not one yourself. 

To add another layer to this web of difficult gift-giving, it's always better to give useful, helpful gifts rather than buy something just for the sake of having something to give. 

So what can you buy for a fitness fan that's practical, relevant and something they'll actually use and love? These seven gift picks are a good start.

Read more: Best back to school gear under $250  

Sarah Tew/CNET

When looking for a gift for an active person, you really can't go wrong with an activity tracker. You also don't have to spend hundreds on the latest Apple Watch (although I'm sure your giftee would appreciate it). There are tons of cheaper Apple Watch alternatives that have many of the same functions and can satisfy the data-driven minds of fitness fiends.

The Fitbit Versa 2 is our pick for the best back-to-school fitness gift, but the Garmin Vivomove HRFitbit Charge 3 and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active all hold their own, too.

Read our Fitbit Versa 2 review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Sitting for hours on end can really take a toll on your posture, even when you actively attempt to correct it. While you might get instant gratification by slipping into a slouched position, you'll pay the price later when neck and shoulder soreness impede the simplest of activities. 

A massage gun can beat the soreness out of you -- literally. If you're looking for a massage gun for a student or teacher headed back to school this fall, study up on some of the best by reading our guide to the best massage guns of 2020 (and our Theragun review). 

Our pick is the Hyperice Hypervolt Plus, but be sure to check out the Sportneer Percussive Massage Gun and the brand-new Theragun Mini also.

Uplift Desk

This one's more for the teachers than the students, but anyone who experiences fluid accumulation in their lower legs (aka, the dreaded cankles) can benefit from a foot hammock. 

These nifty tools attach to the underside of your desk to create a resting place for your feet, which can relieve pressure and keep fluid from building up in your calves and ankles. An under-desk foot rest that sits on the floor can work just as well.


With fear of germs at an all-time high (thanks, Coronavirus), navigating the germy hallways of schools this fall kind of seems like a self-sentence for the flu. Luckily, you have power over at least one surface: the inside of your water bottle. 

If you know someone who constantly fills up at hallway water fountains, consider gifting them a UV-powered self-cleaning water bottle, which can zap germs from the interior of the cap and bottle. Of course, it's still upon the receiver to keep the mouth spout clean, but at least they'll have peace of mind about the fluid they're guzzling.

Larq is the trendiest self-cleaning water bottle out there, but in our testing, we settled on CrazyCap as the best self-cleaning bottle. There's also the Mahaton bottle on Kickstarter.

Six Pack Bags

I remember when I was in school and would go straight from class to sports practice to work. It was always a 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. day with no stops at home and, looking back, one thing could have made it all so much easier: a high-quality, compartmented, durable bag that could fit the various shoes, outfits, food and gear I needed throughout the day. 

Whether you're gifting a busy student or a teacher who loves to hit the gym before or after work, you can't really go wrong with a nice bag. 6 Pack Bags makes top-notch duffels and backpacks that can meet the needs and style preferences of almost anyone. 

We also love the King Kong Junior Kong Durable Duffel Gym Bag for anyone who wants extreme durability or the Nike Radiate Women's Graphic Training Duffel Bag for anyone who wants a sleeker style.


Good walking shoes are a necessity for everyone, but especially for students who may have to walk a quarter-mile or more between classes (shoutout to every college kid who sprints across campus for those back-to-back classes). 

A quality pair of walking shoes can prevent aches and pains in the feet, ankles, calves and knees and -- who knows -- possibly even help you walk faster. No more tardies! 

Some podiatrist-recommended walking shoes include the Asics Gel Nimbus and Vionic Walker Classic, and an Internet favorite is Skechers' Skech Air Element walking shoe.

More for health and wellness enthusiasts

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.