Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

It seems paradoxical to think that TV could help us get fit and healthy. Yet films and documentaries can have an undeniably powerful effect on our moods, motivation, and sense of purpose. Especially when it comes to exercise and lifestyle.

Watching people achieve their own goals (and struggle with their own problems) can be very cathartic and inspiring. And can give us a much needed boost when we’re low on enthusiasm. Here then, for your viewing pleasure personal development, are 6 documentaries to inspire a fit and healthy lifestyle.


It’s not a documentary about fitness per se. But it’s long been said that health and happiness are connected. So if you want to be fit, you want to be happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

Bigger Stronger Faster

This documentary focusses on performance-enhancing drugs, and raises the question of whether they’re really worth it just for getting “bigger, stronger, and faster”.

Super-Size Me

A classic and very well-known documentary that’s been around for some time now. Super-Size Me works on a simple premise: what happens if you eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days? It’s an interesting and, at times, alarming film, and in the end may help encourage viewers to think more carefully about what and how they eat.  

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

If you’ve ever wondered if changing your diet could change your life, then this documentary is for you. It’s an inspirational story of discipline, dedication, and transformation. And what’s most uplifting is its simple message that we all have the ability to turn our lives around if we just put our minds to it.

Pumping Iron

A documentary about bodybuilding in the 1970s. Following amateur and professional bodybuilders (amongst which are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno), it shows us just what it takes to stand out and excel in a highly competitive sport.

Desert Runners

Prepare to revel, gawp, and pale at this group of runners who are all taking on RacingThePlanet’s 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series. It’s widely regarded as the most prestigious outdoor footrace series in the world (and one of the hardest). If you watch this, you’ll see why.

Watch and read for a healthy life

For more stimulating fitness-based entertainment, why not read these 10 fantastic books on swimming, sports, and fitness. Or if it’s pure motivation you’re looking for, here are 9 motivating and inspiring TED talks on fitness, exercise, and wellbeing for you to enjoy.