Long flights, late trains, bumper-to-bumper traffic—traveling during the holidays is enough to turn you into a grinch. But getting hooked on a fascinating podcast is one way to make your trip a little less painful. The best shows always leave you craving more, so that inevitable weather delay doesn't seem like such a big deal.
Because there are so many podcasts to choose from, it can be tough to find exactly what you're looking for. So we went to the pros: Here, a group of health and wellness experts—including doctors, nutritionists, a nurse, and a trainer—share the shows they've always got queued up.
Recommended by: Christine Johnston, MD, an internist at Medical Center of the Rockies
The details: Actors like Minnie Driver and Molly Ringwald read aloud essays from The New York Times column about love, heartbreak, and whatever comes in between.
Why she likes it: “As a hospitalist, I interact with patients during an acute illness but miss the ongoing relationships,” she says. “These stories remind me that everyone has a story inside them, and as humans, we are amazingly complex and resilient.”
Recommended by: Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor
The details: RadioLab is described as “a show about curiosity.” Every episode investigates a new scientific question or historic moment, giving listeners an hour of easy-to-digest education.
Why she likes it: “Each time it tackles a different topic, and it kind of delves into the history of things and provides what I consider to be a pretty fascinating explanation,” Sass says. “It’s often science and technology-related or history-related. They did one about how humans figured out how digestion works. Of course as a nutritionist, that was especially fascinating to me.”
Recommended by: Megan Roosevelt, RDN, a Los Angeles-based dietitian and founder of Healthy Grocery Girl
The details: Director and photographer Jones hosts interviews with artists, actors, and musicians on the air. Notable interviewees include Jack Black, Cindy Crawford, and Matt Damon.
Why she likes it: “This podcast is not health related, yet it is incredibly inspiring. I love the long-form conversational interviews and hearing the real-life trials and struggles Sam’s guests share, and what it truly takes to follow your passions and dreams.”
Recommended by: Shelli Sanson-Brown, RN, a nurse at Sutter Health in Sacramento, Calif.
The details: Ferriss has written three New York Times bestsellers on how to maximize your productivity (at work, in the gym, and in the kitchen). On his podcast, Ferriss broadcasts long-form interviews with the uber-successful—from David Blaine and Vince Vaughn to celebrated doctors and athletes.
Why she likes it: “The Tim Ferriss Show is the podcast I yearn for most, and also most commonly referred to as the coveted audio file amongst my professional colleagues,” says Sanson-Brown. “On his show Tim dialogues with experts in the fields of wellness, health, fitness, and nutrition. He dives deep with each pundit to highlight accurate and relevant information for the listener.”
The details: A self-described “multi-passionate entrepreneur,” Forleo encourages listeners to be confident in their dreams and be unafraid to break rules. She and her guests discuss strategies for squeezing more out of life.
Why she likes it: “Marie is such an inspiring thought leader,” Glassman says. “I listen to her podcasts for inspiration on anything from business to creativity to love.”
Recommended by: Nina Shapiro, MD, a pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor at the Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA in Los Angeles
The details: Harris, who has a degree in philosophy and a PhD in neuroscience, explores controversial questions with his expert guests on everything from vaccines to religion to current events.
Why she likes it: “What I like about his work is that Sam’s background is as a scientist, but also he has a philosophical background as well. He interviews scientists from an ethical dilemma and philosophical angle. It’s not highly technical. It’s very accessible.”
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Recommended by: Elliot Abemayor, MD, a professor of head and neck surgery at UCLA
The details: NPR's Shankar Vedantam applies social science research to a wide range of real-life topics, such as the use of free speech in rap, for example, and the paradoxical way recycling can lead people to waste more.
Why he likes it: “He talks about new findings in social science, new and interesting things that people ordinarily wouldn’t know about.”
Recommended by: Roger McIntyre, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto
The details: This debate-style show delves into topics through a variety of perspectives. Recent topics include whether tech companies can keep users’ personal data from the law, and whether Wal-Mart is good for America.
Why he likes it: “I’ve found that, at least in the political space or economic or business news, there’s something about the podcast that is more reflective, cerebral, introspective,” Dr. McIntyre says. “I think for people who are really wanting to have thoughtful contemplative dialogue—thoughtful intellectual discourse—it’s increasingly hard to find that on cable TV. I think the podcast is one of those bastions that allows that to take place."
Recommended by: Chris Winter, MD, a sleep doctor and neurologist and author of The Sleep Solution
The details: Mike & Mike is a no-frills ESPN sports podcast where Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic casually talk sports news and drama with a comedic edge.
Why he likes it: “I work a lot with athletes, and it’s not something I typically follow,” says Dr. Winter. “If a team is doing really well or really poorly, I want to know about it.”
Recommended by: Dennys Lozada, a personal trainer at The Fhitting Room in New York City
The details: Michael Cazayoux, CEO of Los Angeles fitness club Brute Strength, interviews fitness experts and professionals about their personal experiences and their advice for athletes.
Why he likes it: “As a trainer you have to be on top of your education, keeping your mind sharp and up to task. That’s the reason why I listen to podcasts,” Lozada says. “It makes me feel really sharp.”
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