10 Motivating Fitness TED Talks

TED Talks—short talks put on by thought leaders in all fields—are designed to spark curiosity. These talks offer insight into the latest research on science, motivation, leadership, and change. If you're not already an avid TED Talk listener, add these 10 talks to your inspiration bank.

While they're not all directly related to exercise, each talk provides insights into health, well-being, or the pursuit of greatness, all of which play an important role when you're trying to summon the motivation to get off the couch and get fit.


Why Some People Find Exercise Harder Than Others

It's a question that's plagued researchers for years: Why do some people struggle more than others to lose or maintain weight? In this 14-minute talk, social psychologist Emily Balcetis discusses research that looks at how vision—literally what you see—can affect your view of diet and exercise.


Your Genes Are Not Your Fate

Think you're destined to be slow, heavy, or subject to heart attacks because your parents were? Think again. Dean Ornish shares research in this three-minute talk that shows how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance, when you live healthier, eat better, exercise, and love more, your brain cells actually increase.


How an Obese Town Lost a Million Pounds

Hey, if a city can lose a million pounds, surely you can lose five or 10, right? In this 15-minute TED Talk, former Mayor Mick Cornett shares how Oklahoma City, as a whole, decided to overcome its reputation as one of the most obese towns in America. He walks listeners through the changes that helped OKC drop a collective million pounds.


Try Something New for 30 Days

When you have almost no time at all and need a little "oomph" in your motivational step, this three-minute talk from Matt Cutts will get you up and running ... if only for 30 days. Believe it or not, that might be enough to keep you going.


The Key to Success: Grit

This short, six-minute TED Talk from Angela Lee Duckworth may be related to education, but the message is bigger than success in school. It's about grit—and how long-term success doesn't come from a sprint, but from marathon-like tenacity. You better believe there's a takeaway that you can apply to your fitness goals.


Why Dieting Doesn't Usually Work

In the U.S., roughly half of young adolescent girls (12-13 years old) take part in unhealthy weight control strategies such as skipping meals, and they are likely to continue these strategies in adulthood. That's a terrible, terrible shame. In this 13-minute talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt shares her own story and how the science behind dieting sets people up for failure, ultimately doing more harm than good. Luckily, Aarnodt also provides a better, healthier solution to the typical diet.


The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding

The late John Wooden was one of the most universally obvious success stories in college basketball coaching history, but the man himself didn't define success the way the world does. In this simple, 18-minute talk, Wooden shares his definition of success and how it's possible for each of us to find our own, regardless of external or materialistic perceptions.


The Power of Believing That You Can Improve

Carol Dweck's "growth mindset" research highlights the importance of the phrase "not yet." It's the idea that just because you're faced with a challenge or even a failure, your mind has the capacity to grow and you have the capacity to succeed, although maybe "not yet." It's a powerful way to think about physical challenges in fitness, weight loss, and sport.


What a Bike Ride Can Teach You

When Shimon Schocken brought the world of mountain biking to juvenile inmates in Israel, an amazing change took place, and not just for the youth, but for Schocken, too. His stories are evidence of how challenging physical activity and the great outdoors can affect a person's life. Learn what happened in this 16-minute TED Talk.


A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit

Bad habits—we all have them, and they're certainly not easy to break, particularly when it comes to unhealthy habits like stress-eating and smoking. In this 9-minute TED Talk, psychiatrist Judson Brewer shares a simple solution—curiosity—that can be implemented to help anyone learn about their habits and how mindfulness can help lead to a change in behavior.

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