We watch movies to be entertained. Whether you like comedies, dramas, sci-fi, or any other genres, you probably have your own favorites for a number of reasons. And your favorites probably differ from a lot of other people’s favorites, which is fine.
From time to time, however, a film will do more than just entertain–it will inspire or motivate us to take a particular action. The following list of movies are certainly entertaining, at least they are to me, but they also have moments or themes that may be used as motivation to take action to improve your physical health and well being.
So, without further ado, let’s get to the movies!
10. Police Academy
This movie is as bad as it gets when it comes to 80’s movies, and I love it! The acting is so-so, the story is ridiculous, and the jokes are atrocious–but the movie is great! As far as the fitness component of the film, the first half of the movie has all of the new cadets at the police academy working out and going through obstacle courses, which is semi-inspiring as well as funny. Two other parts stand out: 1) the wife at the beginning that chases down her husbands car after jumping fences and swimming through the neighbor’s pool, and 2) the scene with Sgt. Callahan demonstrating techniques to take down an attacker. Any teenage boy who watches that scene will sign-up for a martial arts class immediately, I promise you that. (For what it’s worth, similar Sgt. Callahan scenes appear in every subsequent Police Academy movie, who knew the writers were so keen on motivating teens to take up physical fitness?)
9. Little Miss Sunshine
In this movie that introduced us to Abigail Breslin, there is one scene in particular that reminds us that you never know when you’ll need to do something rather physically demanding, so it’s important to be ready. As the family is driving to take their daughter to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, the clutch on their van goes out so they have to push the van in order to get it started. Hilarity ensues as the family push starts their old VW van, then has to run to jump in before the van stalls out. Moral of the story-you never know when you are going to have to sprint after something, so it helps if you’re prepared.
8. Super-Size Me
This documentary by Morgan Spurlock takes a look at what happens to your body if all you do is eat at McDonalds for an entire month. At the start of the movie, Morgan went to the doctor to get some baseline data concerning how healthy he was, and then routinely visited the doctor as his month of fast food indulgences went on. As you’d expect, his health deteriorated, and his body systems were taxed. He gained an exorbitant amount of weight in just 30 days and started feeling very tired and lethargic. If you’ve ever wondered what too much fast food will do to a person, this movie is a must see. And after watching this film, you’ll be surprised how unappetizing McDonalds and the like will be the next time you think about pulling into the drive-thru.
7. Failure to Launch
Confession time. I have a slight man-crush on Matthew McConaughey. Some might call it more than slight. In any event, watching this movie was semi-painful (I mean it is a chick-flick) but seeing Matty Mc run around half naked made me want to do some push-ups and crunches right there in the theater. Just sayin’.
6. Van Wilder/Old School
One of the more memorable moments in Old School involves a naked and drunk Frank the Tank announce that it’s time to go streaking. Van Wilder has a similar scene, where he organizes a naked fun run. While a few situations may “arise” that could make the run a bit intimidating, and the bouncing and jiggling (for both the hes and the shes) may be more than a little uncomfortable, I’d have to admit the idea or a nude run is at least slightly intriguing. And whether you’d ever do it or not, the thought of anyone seeing you naked is usually more than enough to get you into workout mode.
5. The Sandlot
It’s hard to find the words to accurately describe this film that celebrates classic Americana. Boys spending their summer playing baseball, splashing around in the community pool, day-dreaming about older girls, and sleeping over at your buddy’s house-ahh the sweet smell of nostalgia. But as the movie reaches its climax, they boys hit a ball over the neighbor’s fence and one of them has to go get it. The problem, of course, is that the neighbor has a big mean dog chained up in his yard, aptly nicknamed the beast. As Benny grabs the ball and jumps back over the fence, the dog breaks free and chases him throughout town. In the end, of course, everything winds up happily ever after but the lesson is there-you never know when you’ve got to run for your life. And while you may never need to run for your life literally, running for your health, ie your life, is something that is good for us all.
4. Kill Bill
At first this may appear to be a stretch, but the ladies in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are all fit, sexy and powerful, the kind of combo that drives most men wild. So while these movies may not have moments as overtly exercise-centric as some of the others on the list, I still think it applies. And Uma Thuman in her yellow suit isn’t bad either.
3. Home Alone
For my money, this is one of the top 3 or 4 Christmas movies out there. I know I’m opening myself up for a heated debate on this topic but I was about the same age as ol’ Kevin McCallister was when these movies came out, and I’d have loved to outwit the two inept burglars in the film. But this movie didn’t make the list because of Kevin’s antics, but a more realistic scenario. Even been late for an airplane? What about the subway? A little slow getting to the bus stop and now you’re late for work? As the movie demonstrates, stuff happens and you may need to rush to get things straight. Running through O’Hare, Central Station, or Times Square to get where you need to be requires a certain level of fitness, as the McCallister family shows while they are late for their plane to Paris.
According to Columbus’ Rules to Survive Zombieland, “Rule Number 1: Cardio. Zombies lead a very active lifestyle; so should you.” Let’s face it, zombies are big right now. And supposing all the zombie movies/TV shows are right, they can be beaten in a foot race. So on the off chance that there will ever be an actual zombie apocalypse, having a head start on your cardio training is a great idea.
And finally….The number one movie to inspire physical fitness is…..
1. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is at the head of a lot of movie lists. The movie itself is fantastic, and Tom Hanks does a brilliant job portraying the lovable Forrest. Everyone remembers Jenny’s line of “Run Forrest!”, but here is what he has to say about running himself. “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.” So he just started running. In the end, he claims to have run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. Then he just stopped. All told, it’s a bit unrealistic ( kinda like the rest of the film) but it’s inspiring none the less. And you don’t have to set out to run for a long time either, but just start and see what happens. I mean, it worked for Forrest, Forrest Gump.
So there you have it. My 10 best movies to inspire you to stop watching so many movies and go do something to improve your health. Kind of ironic, eh?
So while you may never need to run from zombies, battle assassins while wearing a yellow one piece, or be caught dead streaking, at the end of the day we all need to be healthy. And finding the inspiration to improve your health can come from a number of places. So keep your eyes out for places to find that motivation.
The next time you sit down to the movie of your choice, remember that movies are a lot like life, which is a lot like a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re gonna get.
What movies inspire you to make positive changes in your health? I’m sure I missed a bunch, so let me know in the comments!