Top Fifteen Fitness & Health Related TED Talks to Watch This Winter Holidays

As you already, probably, know, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas that worth sharing. All TED Talks are usually up 18 minutes and cover almost all topics you could imagine— from pursuing your passion to becoming a better listener to saving rainforests — in more than 100 languages. Most of these talks are fascinating.

Surprisingly, while there are many playlists on the website to feed your inner inspiring pieces explorer, there is no playlist of health, fitness, and exercises related talks. So, we diligently curated all the content out there – and here is our suggested cream of the crop powerful speeches about sports motivation, exercising, and health, just in case you want to switch temporarily from Netflix this Christmas vacation. 

1. Your body language shapes who you are, by Amy Cuddy 

If you need a scientific evidence that a correct posture is good for you, social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how taking a high-power position (straightening the back and elongating the spine) increases your chances in job interviews and negotiations. This is directly related to the universal principle of the animal world, where straightening upright is a nonverbal expression of power, dominance, and success. Knowledge of this kind opens up a whole new world for people who feel too shy to speak in public or handle tough business deals. All you need is to inhale deeply and uncurl your shoulders.

If you want to get all the benefits of correct posture, check our Posture Guide 

2. The puzzle of motivation, by Dan Pink

It turns out that traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. This talk explains that as long as the task involved is only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance. But once the task called for even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance. Even more, those if-then rewards often destroy creativity. So, the secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive- the drive to do things for their own sake- the drive to do things because they matter.

Learn about Ten Facts about Motivation in Sports and Life to get a full picture.

3. Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model, by Cameron Russell

This talk will repeat what you know already: image is powerful, but also, an image can be superficial. In particular, for the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. Cameron Russel shows how exactly the power of image impacts our successes and failures in life.

4. Why some people find exercise harder than others, by Emily Balcetis

That’s the spirit we are looking for on lazy days! Apparently, our bodies can change how far away that finish line looks! And interestingly, people who have committed to a manageable goal that they could accomplish in the near future and who believe that they are capable of meeting that goal actually see the exercise as easier. So, it is worth keeping our eyes on the prize: this strategy helps make the exercise look easier, and can contribute to making the exercise better.

5. Are we born to run? By Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall explores the mysteries of the human desire to run (well, even if you haven’t desired to run up to this moment, we still recommend watching this talk). He says that we look at running as this kind of alien, foreign thing, this punishment we’ve got to do because we ate pizza the night before. But running is something different. Watch this talk to know what it is exactly.

6. The beauty of being a misfit, by Lidia Yuknavitch

This talk dares you to recognize the beauty, and difficulty, in forging an original path. “You can be a drunk, you can be a survivor of abuse, you can be an ex-con, you can be a homeless person, you can lose all your money or your job or your husband or your wife, or the worst thing of all, a child. You can even lose your marbles. You can be standing dead center in the middle of your failure and still, I’m only here to tell you, you are so beautiful. Your story deserves to be heard, because you, you rare and phenomenal misfit, your new species, are the only one in the room who can tell the story the way only you would. And I’d be listening.”

7. Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? By David Epstein

David Epstein walks you through the history of innovation in sports, whether that’s new track surfaces or new swimming techniques. He proves that an understanding of what the human body is truly capable of has conspired to make athletes stronger, faster, bolder, and better than ever.

8. Health care should be a team sport, by Eric Dishman

Illustrated by a personal story, this talk suggests a bold idea for reinventing health care — by putting the patient at the center of a treatment team. Until the time that all amazing technologies such as printable kidneys are available to all of us, and even when they are, the speaker suggests that it’s up to us to care for, and even save, one another.

9. How I swam the North Pole, by Lewis Pugh

Lewis Pugh talks about his record-breaking swim across the North Pole, and that is not quite an ordinary thing to do, right? The water at the North Pole is minus 1.7 🙂 He talks about training his mind to prepare himself for what was going to happen, visualizing the swim, and depression he went through. He talks about the necessity to believe in ourselves. Now is the time to believe.

10. A simple way to break a bad habit, by Judson Brewer

Wondering how to quit caffeine abusing or eating donuts in the midnight? Learn more about the mechanism of habit development and discover a simple but profound tactic that might help you beat your next urge to smoke, snack or check a text while driving. The speaker enlightens us that when we get curious, we step out of our old, fear-based, reactive habit patterns, and we step into being. We become this inner scientist where we’re eagerly awaiting that next data point. So, all we need to do to break the habit is to become mindful and curiously aware of what’s happening in our body and mind at that moment.

11. One more reason to get a good night’s sleep, by Jeff Iliff

We all need one more reminder on how sleep helps us to gain success and prosperity in life. This talk cites recent research that may shed new light on this question. The researches found that sleep may actually be a kind of elegant design solution to some of the brain’s most basic needs, a unique way that the brain meets the high demands and the narrow margins that set it apart from all the other organs of the body.

Good night sleep refreshes and clears the mind, and understanding the very basic housekeeping functions of the brain today may be critical for preventing and treating diseases of the mind tomorrow.

12. What a bike ride can teach you, by Shimon Schocken

Apparently, there are life lessons to be learned while riding. For instance, if you tell kids when they struggle through some uphill and feel like they cannot take it anymore, it really helps to ignore the immediate obstacles and raise your head and look around and see how the vista around you grows. It propels you upwards. That’s what the perspective is all about. Or you can also look back in time and realize that you’ve already conquered steeper mountains before. And that’s how they develop self-esteem.

13. Why did I ski to the North Pole? By Ben Saunders

Arctic explorer Ben Saunders recounts his harrowing solo ski trek to the North Pole, complete with engaging anecdotes. He tries to answer three questions. The first one is, why? The second one is, how do you go to the loo at minus 40? Third one: how do you top that? What’s next?

14. Enough with the fear of fat, by Kelli Jean Drinkwater

She is confident; she is fun, and she is daring. Kelli entices all of us to look again and rethink our biases. “Unapologetic fat bodies can blow people’s minds,” she says. We live in a culture where being fat is seen as being bad — lazy, greedy, unhealthy, irresponsible, and morally suspect. And we tend to see thinness as being universally good — responsible, successful, and in control of our appetites, bodies, and lives. We see these ideas again and again in the media, in public health policy, doctors’ offices, in everyday conversations and in our own attitudes. We may even blame fat people themselves for the discrimination they face because, after all, if we don’t like it, we should just lose weight. But the real elephant in the room here is fatphobia.

15. This is what happens when you reply to spam email, James Veitch

As you get from the title, this TED Talk has nothing to do with fitness or health. Though, hold tight, it does have a benefit for your health: it is hilarious. We promise, you’ll likely laugh till crying all nine minutes. There should be a reason this talk is among twenty most popular TED talks of all times.

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