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Treat your ears (and your health) to these 12 excellent podcasts

Want to know the secret to getting into a regular exercise habit? Piggyback it onto something you already love to do.

That might mean taking a long walk to a cafe to enjoy a cuppa or using the council’s outdoor fitness equipment that overlooks the sea.

Or it might mean getting hooked on a daily or weekly podcast you only listen to when you’re being physically active…

It's called ‘habit stacking’ and it’s a behavioural change technique that works. Your existing habit (something you love to do) acts as the ‘trigger’ to set off your new habit (exercise). You may already have some consistent habits that you can stack onto, but if you don’t, try getting hooked on a podcast.

Podcasts are perfect for habit-stacking because they introduce a new episode daily, twice-weekly or weekly. The idea is, you can only listen to each new episode when you’re exercising. That might mean walking, gardening, kayaking, doing the housework, golfing, or hitting the gym – whatever works for you.

You might not look forward to working out, but you’ll definitely look forward to the next instalment from your new favourite podcast. If you haven’t got a favourite already, here are 12 podcasts that are waiting for you.

1. Feel Better, Live More

This podcast from British GP Dr Rangan Chatterjee is the UK and Europe’s leading health podcast for good reason. Episodes cover every aspect of health and wellbeing, with the affable Chatterjee encouraging listeners to be the “architect of your own health”. Two recent episodes worth a listen are #356 The Science of Longevity: Why Healthspan Matters More Than Lifespan with Dr Peter Attia and #364 Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness with Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz.

2. Conversations

In this ABC Podcast, Richard Fidler and Sarah Kanowski talk in-depth with both well-known and less-known Australians and international guests. These are extraordinary, candid stories that always amaze. Listen to Helen Garner, Archie Roach, Lech Blaine, Patrice Newell, and David Gillespie.

3. Desert Island Discs

A long-time radio show (it first broadcast on the BBC in 1942) became a beloved podcast in 2009. Each week a ‘castaway’ guest chooses eight songs, a book and a luxury item they would bring to a desert island. It’s a unique interview format that reveals unexpected insights into each famous guest. Start with Sir David Attenborough, Ben Helfgott, Yoko Ono, Dame Judi Dench, Maya Angelou or Tom Hanks (but with over 3000 discs, you’ll find plenty that interest you.)

4. Stuff You Missed in History Class

One for history geeks, hosts Holly Frey and Tracy V Wilson carefully research obscure, unique, important stories from the past and discuss how they affect the present. It’s fun, interesting and strangely addictive. Try these episodes on for size: Walt Whitman, Poet of Democracy; The Catacombs of Paris; and Maria Anna Mozart.

5. Five of My Life

Author and broadcaster Nigel Marsh asks guests to talk about their favourite film, book, song, place and possession. There choices are remarkably revealing and smart, witty Marsh is just the right host to delve a little deeper. The guests’ choices are also a great way to find intriguing new books and movies to explore. Start with fun episodes from Amanda Keller, Ross Fitzgerald, and Mikey Robbins.

6. Stuff You Should Know

If you’re endlessly curious about why things are the way they are, Chuck W. Bryant and Josh Clark have got you covered. This humorous podcast delves into the how and why of every random topic you can think of. The history of absinthe? How space stations work? Why Stradivarius violins are so special? The stinky history of human hygiene? Tick, tick, tick, tick!

7. Osher Günsberg: Better Than Yesterday

Osher Gunsberg is one of the nicest guys working in the Australian entertainment space. He’s thoughtful, kind, intelligent and generous. Pretty much everything you could ask for in a podcast host. He tackles everything and anything that’s happening in Australian society, including politics, health and entertainment. Don’t miss these episodes: #334 Dr Russ Harris; #246 Chief Brabon; and #55 Dave Hughes.

8. I Catch Killers with Gary Jubelin

True Crime is a huge podcast genre and this Australian show is a good place to start. Former Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin interviews people involved in every aspect of crime – from cops to criminals to victims and lawyers – to learn their stories. Other crime podcasts worth a listen include:

The Teacher’s Pet

My Favourite Murder

Serial Podcast

Australian True Crime

9. Healthyish Extra

The delightful Felicity Harley hosts this Body + Soul podcast that covers every aspect of health and wellbeing. The episodes are short (generally about 20 minutes), so they’re perfect for a daily listen while you get some movement in. A new episode is released every weekday morning.

10. TED Talks Daily

You’ve no-doubt heard of TED Talks, the live show platform for ‘ideas worth spreading’. This podcast features the best of those talks from international experts at the top of their game. Start listening to some of the most popular TED Talks of all time: Do Schools Kill Creativity?; Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator; The Power of Vulnerability; Why People Believe They Can’t Draw; and My Philosophy for a Happy Life.

11.  7am

A daily news podcast from the publisher of The Monthly and The Saturday Paper. This news outlet is known to be left-centre biased, but high for factual reporting, but if that’s not for you, there is every chance your favourite news publisher has a daily podcast of their own.

12. All in the Mind

Another top ABC Radio National podcast, Sana Qadar is the whip-smart host who explores the latest research on psychology and mental health. It’s a weekly half-hour show, which makes it perfect for stacking with a weekend walk. Recent topics include: Stockholm Syndrome; Toxic positivity; Demystifying menopause; and Scammers.

There’s bound to be a podcast in this list that will get you hooked and keep you listening. Just remember, you’re only allowed to listen to an episode if you’re moving at the same time. You’ll be as fit as you are informed in no time.