The recent record cold temperatures across much of America have likely hindered many resolutions from the start of the year to get more active. When the “healthy” choices are succumbing to hypothermia on the street and being bored to tears on the treadmill, enjoying a bowl of chips and the big game on the couch looks like a significantly more appealing option. But the gym doesn’t have to be tedious. With an iPod or smartphone and a cheap pair of earbuds, you can access thousands of podcasts that turn exercise into education. Here’s a collection of some of the most entertaining science podcasts to keep you running strong.
Professor Blastoff – In an hourlong romp through comedy and science, cohosts Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger explore topics as diverse as animal intelligence and time travel. Although perhaps less academically rigorous than the other podcasts on this list, the star power of big-name comedians like Sarah Silverman and Nick Offerman more than compensate.
Science Friday – National Public Radio’s premier science program is always timely, discussing major recent issues with a calm authority. Although catching the show live gives you the chance to talk with marquee scientists like Craig Venter, the podcast is much more flexible.
The Naked Scientists – Besides having the best name on the list, this collaboration of Cambridge scientists has also produced the most relevant recent episode: a discussion of whether the heart palpitations suffered from a horror film are sufficient replacement for cardiovascular exercise.
Stuff to Blow Your Mind – Exactly what it says on this tin, this offering from the people behind popular website HowStuffWorks focuses on the weirder side of science. From theories of Stonehenge to the possibility of turning arms into wings, the program keeps itself just grounded enough to explore how wild science can be.
99% Invisible – Although more about engineering and design than basic science, this labor of San Fransisco radio jockeys Roman Mars and Sam Greenspan shares the scientific drive to examine the unexamined. For example, the two provide a fascinating look into the psychological construction of slot machines and how the gambling devices have become so immensely profitable.
The Weekly Weinersmith – Zach Weinersmith, creator of the brilliantly nerdy webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, collaborates with his wife Kelley, an ecology grad student at UC Davis, to produce a weekly podcast on the oddities of the biological world. While the show is currently on hiatus, it’s due to return shortly, and the archive of episodes contains plenty of enjoyable content (like this work-unsafe riff on unusual animal genitalia).
Freakonomics Radio – The duo behind the best-selling book, journalist Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt, also produce a breezy podcast about “the hidden side of everything.” Economics is far from a dismal science in their capable hands.