Four Best Fitness/ Wellness Summer Reads
It’s that time of year, where summer reading lists are published and suggest what you need to read while relaxing by the pool or beach. A quick search reveals that no list includes books related to health and wellness. For good reason, most health and wellness books are dry how-to books often related to the latest fad. However, I believe there are some good reads in the genre, and I give you my highly objective and well-researched top four. All four have connected with me personally and influenced me to critically think about health and wellness and take steps to positively transform my life.
- The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner (2010). Dan Buettner conducted research on longevity for the National Geographic, which resulted in this entertaining and descriptive story of the five places in the world where there are the highest concentrations of people who live the longest with the most quality. Don’t we all want that. It’s a combination of research and storytelling about these five unique cultures found in parts of Japan, Greece, Italy, California and Costa Rica. Ultimately, there are nine power secrets to quality longevity that can be found in the Blue Zones. One of the most important is eating more plants. That lesson I took to heart and it has genuinely improved my overall health and well-being. He promotes drinking a glass of wine everyday as well, if that helps you pick up the book. It’s very credible health research told with unique stories. This was my one pick for the short-lived Bdefined book club.
- Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance by Christopher McDougall (2015). I was a big fan of McDougall’s first book – Born to Run. Born to Run told the story of a unique group of ultra runners including a “hidden mexican tribe”, who excelled running barefoot or in sandals for hundreds of miles. It’s a mix of character development and performance research. But it might not be of interest, if you don’t run. Natural Born Heroes is similar in structure, but is a historical piece describing the amazing story of Crete resistance fighters, who accomplished incredible feats against the powerful Nazis in World War II. It weaves the story of intrigue with lessons of athletic performance related to nutrition, endurance and natural movement. It’s a great motivational read.
- What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength by Scott Carney (2017). This is my most recent read. I had seen several mentions of performance guru and athlete, Wim Hof, in the past year and heard him on podcasts. Top performers like surfer, Laird Hamilton, are followers of his methods. He has carved a niche through use of breathing techniques and exposure to cold as a way to enhance cell structure which leads to enhanced physical performance and has positively impacted individuals with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s. The book tells Hof’s story and the author’s story of adopting and succeeding with the methods. It also highlights several individuals, who have transformed their lives with the techniques. It basically says we have all become wimps with our climate controlled lives and need to get outside and toughen up. It might motivate you to take some cold showers.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver (2007). I just recently discovered this one as a digital audio book at the Williamsburg Public Library. Some of you might recognize the author from her most famous work – “The Poisonwood Bible.” You know how much I care about the local food movement and this is a great story of how Kingsolver’s family tried for a year to consume nothing but local food. They live on a small farm in Southwest Virginia near where I grew up, and that’s one reason it connected with me. It too is a mix of personal story with elements of research related to the benefits of local food and the issues with large industry food. They both grew their own food and obtained some from local farmers. They missed seafood and oranges, but ultimately made it through the year. Inspiration from a food perspective this time.
So, it’s not all diet books out there in the wellness genre. These are great reads for this summer and I believe they can positively impact you and your families lives as well.