Summer reading list: Health, Exercise and Physical Activity

Post date: 02-May-2013 20:24:37

I spend much of my time nagging undergraduates to "read more journals" and "choose better sources to reference" but as we approach the summer break I thought it might be the right time to put together a quick post on some books that might prevent too many mental cobwebs from forming over the summer months. Some of these titles might not sit perfectly within any particular modules, but can still add a great deal to an undergraduates academic development, albeit whilst sat on a beach somewhere.

Tim Caulfield (2013) "The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness"

A great read with considered reviews of key research in the areas of fitness, nutrition, genetics and medicine (CAM & pharma). Caulfield speaks to a number of the world's best researchers and lives the experience of trying to live a more healthy lifestyle. The result is a very readable book that cuts through much of the rubbish that is spoken about these topics. Whilst not an academic text it still manages to incorporate and cite the key texts that the content is based on so the reader can read much of the original research.

Ben Goldacre (2009) "Bad Science"

The classic skeptic's text of recent years that brings together the work of Ernst and Greenhalgh in an easy to read format. Little is safe from the wrath of Goldacre including homeopathy, big Pharma, acupunturists and (Dr) Gillian McKeith and her poo-poking antics. His website is also worth a read.

Kevin Fong (2013) "Extremes: Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body"

The doctor examines how humans are capable of performing at the limits of human physiology, and within a variety of environmental challenges. He holds degrees in medicine, astrophysics and engineering...I have a certificate that reminds me I was once a magician's assistant.

Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst (2009) "Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial"

The definitive book that addresses the evidence behind complimentary medicine. Even if you don't have much interest in alternative therapies the scientific approach and relentless approach to evidence based medicine is an education in itself and can be applied to debunking many health and fitness topics. The profs website and twitter account (@EdzardErnst) are worth a look as well.

Alex Hutchinson (2011) "Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise"

Another title that examines many contemporary health and fitness topics that are easy to follow yet based on academic research. Alex's runnersworld pages and twitter account (@sweatscience) are also recommended.

Evans, I., Thornton, H. and Chalmers, I. (2010) "Testing Treatments: Better research for better healthcare" [full text]

A bit more academic, and less gripping than some of the other titles, this is still a good read for anyone studying health. The fact that it is available as a website, a free book download and a regular book on Amazon is even better.

Trish Greenhalgh (2010) "How to read a paper: the basics of evidence based medicine"

Again, a more academic read but worth spending the time on if you are a health-related student at any level and would like to raise your game.

If you think there are other books that would sit well on this list then please, email me, or tweet me @benjanefitness