The 2020 Health & Fitness Holiday Reading List

Looking for a good book to read? Maybe you have some extra time during the holidays or need a gift idea for a family member or friend. Here are some suggestions related to nutrition, exercise, and health, all written by experts in a way that make them easy to read and understand. Together, these books provide the why and how of developing an active, healthy lifestyle and give you the information and ideas you need to get started on your New Year’s Resolutions!

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Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor (Riverhead Books, 2020).
For something you do all day and night, you probably don’t think much about breathing—but you should! In this book you will learn how breathing can affect your physical and mental health, the benefits of regulating your breathing, and techniques to improve your breathing. Combining research, ancient practices, and self-experimentation, the author provides evidence and examples for taking breathing as seriously as you do healthy eating, exercise, and sleep.

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Jason Fung (Greystone Books, 2016)
Losing weight and keeping it off is a familiar challenge for many people and the focus on simply eating less doesn’t always work. This book explains the metabolic and hormonal reasons why weight loss is so difficult and why traditional diets often fail. It also provides suggestions for things you can do to achieve a healthy balance to lose weight and keep it off. Equal parts explanation and instruction, this book has a lot to offer people who want to understand both the why and how of weight loss.

Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear (Penguin Random House, 2019).
Improving your health is as much about changing your habits as it is about any specific dietary or exercise change. This book focuses on breaking bad habits and adopting good ones in all aspects of your life through small changes to your everyday routines. Based on a loop that reinforces habits, good or bad, the author recommends four steps to make new habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. While the book isn’t specifically about health behaviors, you can apply it to any habits you want to change, including eating, exercise, and sleep.

The Heart-Healthy Handbook by Barry Franklin and Simon Dixon (Healthy Learning, 2017).
If you have had a heart attack or are at risk for a heart attack in the future—which, by the way, is nearly everyone—this is the book for you! Written by expert exercise and nutrition professionals in a way that is easy-to-understand, this book explains the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart disease and related conditions. From descriptions of common tests to steps you can take to improve your heart health, this is a book you can put to use within the first few pages.

Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World by Kelly Starrett, Juliet Starrett, and Glenn Cordoza (Victory Belt, 2016).
You probably already know that years of sitting at work, home, and in your car is bad for you. This book clearly explains why and how prolonged sitting affects your health, from diabetes and heart disease to muscle and joint pain. More importantly, this book includes simple exercises to help you undo the damage from sitting. On almost every page you will find something you can do to stretch, strengthen, and restore your muscles and joints.

SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey (Little, Brown and Company, 2008).
Exercise has well-known and proven benefits for the body, from improved health to enhancing fitness. What is less well-known are the benefits exercise has on the brain. In this important book, Dr. Ratey explains the link between exercise and brain health. You will learn how mood, memory, attention, and learning are all improved with exercise and have new motivation to get out and get moving!

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