Even the most dedicated athletes go through dry spells. When you need a dose of inspiration—or just something new to flip through on your commute—these health and fitness books will get you going. There are books by professional athletes, writers turned runners, psychologists, and entrepreneurs (looking at you, SoulCycle). Each brings something different to the table, but they’re all reminders of what our bodies can do and how to treat ’em right. Fitt Tip: Shake up a long bike ride or gym sesh by swapping out your playlist for an e-book.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss is known for his no-BS self-help books. The 4-Hour Workweek is probably his most well-known, but we’re partial to Tools of Titans. The book outlines the habits and routines of hundreds of super-successful people Ferriss has interviewed, from billionaires to pro athletes. If you want to become more productive, this is your guide.
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek
Scott Jurek knows his stuff. He has finished first in several ultrarunning events and holds the American record for running six and a half marathons in one day. Not too shabby. This book follows Jurek on his attempt to run the Appalachian Trail in 46 days. To break the record, he needs to run a casual 50 miles a day for seven weeks (NBD). If you need a kick in the pants to up your exercise game, this is it.
Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson
With a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell and a review by Adam Grant, this book has high praise. It’s about mental strength more than anything, and it looks at how humans competing at the highest level are able to succeed. It also includes an inside look at Nike’s effort to break the two-hour marathon. Oh, and Amazon users gave it 4.6 stars.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
This historical fiction novel is one of Amazon’s top 20 customer-reviewed books of all time, with more than 20,000 reviews and a 4.8 star rating. It’s not a “health and fitness” book in the traditional sense, but the story of an underdog team of rowers making their way to the Olympics will motivate you to get off the couch and move.
The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington
If you’re a five-hours-a-night kind of sleeper, your world is about to be rocked. Huffington—yes, of The Huffington Post—lays out exactly why sleep is so important and gives practical advice on how to actually prioritize sleep in your busy life. Your sleep schedule is begging you to read this book.
My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
Send this to your parents who think they’re too old to run, and then read it yourself for some serious motivation. Foreman, a journalist and middle-aged dad, tells funny stories of training for a marathon… and getting a little too into the runner’s high.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
You’ve definitely heard this book’s title at one point or another. Duhigg’s 2014 tome talks habits: how to figure out your current habits, why they’re there, and how to form new patterns. His tricks can apply on many levels: whether you’re trying to lose weight, be more productive, or quit smoking, Duhagg will help you out.
Two Turns From Zero by Stacey Griffith
Love the high energy and low lights of boutique cycling? You’ll appreciate this memoir-meets-health-guide from SoulCycle’s senior master instructor. Her life path is far from what you’d expect. To that end, Griffith’s book blends stories about her life with actionable nutrition and training tips. Plus, it has got 4.7 stars on Amazon.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
As the name suggests, this book—a Goodreads favorite—is geared toward runners. The memoir focuses on Murakami’s NYC marathon training. He’s honest about the good and the bad that comes with training, and he weaves in stories about his life as a writer, too. If you need some get-back-out-there inspo, this book is a good start.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
This book can be boiled down to seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Pollan’s 2009 book—a #1 New York Times Bestseller—is the anti-diet book. No gimmicks, just some solid information on what’s off about western diets and how to eat healthier. It’s pretty basic stuff but is presented in a witty, readable way.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett
While more technical than the other books we’ve mentioned, this is one of the most respected lifting and exercise guides out there. It goes over injury prevention and basic injury rehab, and gives expert tips on optimizing your performance. Think of it as PT 101.