Now that we’re a month into the new year, it’s statistically likely that whatever health resolutions you set for 2020 have already lost their luster. Luckily for those in need of some straightforward training tips and expert motivation to help get back on track, plenty of coaches and nutritionists are available in audio form. Other shows explore health through individual stories of survival, endurance and transformation, or through candid interviews in which guests reflect on their psychological struggles. Whatever version of wellness you’re seeking, here are seven podcasts to get you in better physical and emotional shape.
Every fitness guru needs an origin story — often one of emotional transformation through exercise — and Emily Abbate, the “Hurdle” host, — is no exception. Now a health writer and coach, Abbate was “dramatically overweight” as a college student and redirected her life after discovering running. In her addictive twice-weekly podcast, Abbate shares fitness tips from her own life and interviews people who have overcome hurdles through healthy living. Though many guests are from the fitness world, including trainer Jillian Michaels and soccer player Alex Morgan, others are simply successful people for whom fitness is an essential tool, and their stories offer plenty of useful lessons for everyday life.
Starter episode: “How To Start (and Stay) Running”
‘Mental Illness Happy Hour’
Though mental health is still too often neglected in the cultural conversation around “wellness,” that is slowly changing as stigma around the subject recedes. Comedian Paul Gilmartin has been chipping away at the taboo for years with this weekly “hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads,” a show that makes you feel as if you’re part of a very articulate support group. Gilmartin leads sprawling, intimate conversations with guests primarily in the creative arts, who share raw admissions about their deepest fears, compulsive behaviors and traumatic histories. Though the show can be heavy listening, it’s also laced with irreverent humor and hope.
Starter episode: “Best Of: Rob Delaney (2011)”
‘The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous’
The Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network offers a variety of bite-size service shows with advice on topics like grammar, parenting and productivity. Nutritionist Monica Reinagel, known as the Nutrition Diva, takes a “sane, scientific” approach to dietary advice that cuts through the onslaught of often-conflicting information and offers deceptively simple lessons — all in the time of a short commute. Whether you’re trying to pick a nondairy milk alternative or curious about intermittent fasting, Reinagel is will likely have an episode on the subject, and her levelheaded delivery will leave you feeling calmer as well as better informed.
Starter episode: “10 Nutrition Worries You Can Stop Stressing About”
‘An Arm and a Leg’
“We may be screwed, but we’re together,” runs the cheerfully nihilistic tagline of this podcast about the cost of health care. No conversation about wellness would be complete without acknowledging the labyrinthine medical system Americans are forced to navigate, and after listening to a few episodes of An Arm and a Leg, you’ll understand why the show was (semi-ironically) nominated for a “Best True Crime Podcast” award last year. In telling stories about patients being sued by their hospitals, inexplicably dropped by their insurance companies or charged thousands of dollars monthly for essential medications, host Dan Weissmann strikes a balance between dry humor and palpable anger, and always offers solutions or suggestions to offset the mind-boggling case studies.
Starter episode: “Can They Freaking Do That?!?”
Intuitive eating — a philosophy that rejects dieting in favor of listening to your body’s internal cues — has gone mainstream over the past few years along with the “Health at Every Size” paradigm. Dietitian Christy Harrison’s inspiring show is one of the best resources if you’re intrigued by this size-inclusive movement; the show promotes a clean break from traditional diet culture and features interviews with guests who discuss how they’re unlearning years of restrictive, unhealthy behaviors. Harrison’s approach is unapologetically radical, dismantling the ways in which diet culture is a “life thief” and how wellness can provide a smoke screen for disordered eating. Listen, and feel your perspective shift.
Starter episode: “Intuitive Eating & Health at Every Size FAQs”
Though not primarily focused on fitness, “Outside Podcast” tells compelling human stories set in the great outdoors, and its most gripping episodes position themselves at the intersection of physical endurance and psychological upheaval. In one, host Peter Frick-Wright recounts in visceral detail his experience of breaking a leg in the middle of a treacherous and remote canyon hike; in another, an unfortunate hiker becomes a case study of the strange and devastating neurological effects caused by being struck by lightning. Even in its less high-stakes moments — like the installment in which a lifelong H2O skeptic begins drinking a gallon a day — this show will change the way you look at your body and its capabilities.
Starter episode: “Struck by Lightning”
‘The Model Health Show’
Amid hundreds of testosterone-fueled fitness podcasts promising to get you shredded and rewire your microbiome — but only if you follow a specific, restrictive regime to the letter — Shawn Stevenson’s evenhanded offering stands out. “The Model Health Show” focuses on overall health, inspired by Stevenson’s experience of overhauling his lifestyle to combat chronic pain from degenerative disc disease. In his conversations with experts, Stevenson offers balanced, evidence-based analysis of fads and fitness trends, and spends as much time on psychological well-being as on how to accelerate fat loss and build muscle mass.
Starter episode: “TMHS 383: How Your Thoughts Control Your Biology & How to Transform Your Thinking”