Listen Up! The 7 Best Podcasts for Learning on the Go

One of the true keys to aging gracefully is to never stop learning. A variety of activities can keep your mind active and engaged: reading books and magazines, playing games, cultivating a new hobby, having thoughtful discussions with friends.

Listening to podcasts is another great way to challenge your brain and learn new things, especially when you’re on the move. Read on to discover where to find podcasts and how to listen with hearing aids, plus seven of our favorite series for learning on the go. 

What is a podcast?

A podcast is basically a radio show with fewer (or no) commercials that you can listen to on a mobile device or computer whenever you choose. Podcasts are produced by individuals, companies, radio and TV networks—essentially anyone with a story to tell, subject to explore or information to share. There are hundreds of thousands of them out there (more than 660,000!), so it’s easy to find shows that match your passions and interests.

Podcasts are a convenient form of education and entertainment because you can enjoy them anywhere, at any time (some are even designed to help you sleep). Tune in on your way to work, while you’re washing dishes, on the treadmill, or gather friends and listen together.

Where do people listen to podcasts? 

You can find and listen to podcasts on many websites and apps. Most podcasts can be enjoyed for free. Popular audio apps such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and RadioPublic are easy to use and let you browse hundreds of shows. Users can stream episodes via the app or download them onto a mobile device or computer for offline listening.

Are you a big fan of historical fiction? Enjoy keeping up with world news? Many audio apps, including those mentioned above, let you browse podcasts by genre and store your favorites. They can also keep track of podcasts you’ve listened to and recommend new ones that match your listening preferences. Additionally, you can subscribe to shows and get notified when a new episode is released.

Podcast websites usually house episodes, too. That’s also a great place to find more background information on the show, along with complementary content and audio transcripts.

How do you listen to a podcast with hearing aids?

Listening to podcasts with your hearing aids is pretty simple. The most convenient way is to stream the audio directly from a mobile device to your hearing aids.

If you have Bluetooth hearing aids equipped for direct streaming, you’ll pair your hearing aids to the Bluetooth-enabled device that holds your podcasts, like your smartphone. Once the devices are connected, you can stream sound directly to your hearing aids—no intermediary device needed. You don’t even need to push any buttons—as soon as the audio starts playing, your hearing aids will automatically switch to your streaming settings.

Miracle-Ear hearing aids have a free hearing aid app available for download via Apple’s iTunes store or Google Play. The MEcontrol app works like a remote control for your hearing aids, allowing you to easily and discreetly adjust sound balance, volume and other settings as you listen. Learn how to pair the app to your hearing aids.

Hearing aids that aren’t programmed for direct streaming require an intermediary streaming accessory.

Editors’ picks: 7 podcasts we love 

Whether you’re new to podcasts or a longtime listener, explore this list of some of the most entertaining and informative podcasts around. Happy listening!

This American Life

If you listen to NPR, you may already be familiar with “This American Life,” a weekly public radio program and podcast hosted by journalist Ira Glass. It’s consistently ranked as one of the world’s best podcasts, and more than two million people download each episode. The show focuses on a new theme each week and tells a variety of stories around that theme, often examining aspects of American society and culture through an unexpected lens. Some stories are funny, others touching—but each is sure to get you thinking.

Criminal

Love true crime? Then you’ll love the popular, award-winning podcast series “Criminal,” which regularly makes its way onto lists of the best podcasts. Each episode uses original reporting, interviews and incredible sound design to tell a riveting, real-life crime story in about 30 minutes. Unlike many other crime podcasts, the show focuses more on the historical, sociological and anthropological aspects of the crime, rather than just the details.

99% Invisible

Ever wondered about the origins of the fortune cookie? Curious how colors have been made throughout time? If you’re interested in history, design and technology, check out “99% Invisible,” a podcast “all about the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about.” Each episode focuses on different designs and structures, organized into categories such as objects, sounds, infrastructure, architecture, technology and cities. Hosts and guests examine everything from world-famous monuments to things you may have never noticed or paid much attention to (inflatable men at car lots?).

Optimal Health Daily

There’s an endless supply of health, fitness and nutrition content online, and it can take time to sift through it all to uncover the most useful and accurate information. Nutritionist Matt McLeod finds the best health blogs and resources for you and reads them every weekday on “Optimal Health Daily.” He covers the latest health news and trends and answers listeners’ questions on Fridays.

The Flipping 50 Show

Host Debra Atkinson’s podcast offers practical health advice for women who are approaching, at or over 50. Episodes tackle a variety of health, fitness and wellness topics—from joint-friendly exercise tips to strength training, nutrition and skin care. Each episode aims to empower women to age gracefully and achieve their wellness goals.

Should This Exist?

“Should This Exist?” explores how certain technologies impact our humanity through conversations with creators of today’s edgiest new inventions. Different voices weigh in on the potential societal effects of things like mood-detecting software and headsets designed to help you learn faster.

Stuff You Should Know

This award-winning podcast and video series comes from HowStuffWorks and is hosted by two of the website’s writers. Each episode takes a look at an object or idea and how it “works”—from champagne to sign language, the government, igloos and more than one thousand other topics. Some episodes are quick, 15-minute segments while others are hour-long and go more in-depth. The show releases new episodes several times per week.

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