Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Hardcover – Jan 10 2008
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"At last a book that explains to me why I feel so much better if I run in the morning! This very readable book describes the science behind the mind-body connection and adds to the evidence that exercise is the best way to stay healthy, alert, and happy!"―Dr. Susan M. Love, Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book and Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
"Bravo! This is an extremely important book. What Cooper did decades ago for exercise and the heart, Ratey does in SPARK for exercise and the brain. Everyone--teachers, doctors, managers, policy-makers, individuals trying to lead the best kind of life--can benefit enormously from the utterly convincing and brilliantly documented thesis of this ground-breaking work. People know that exercise helps just about everything, except anorexia, but it will surprise most people just how dramatically it improves all areas of mental functioning. So, get moving! You're brain will thank you and repay you many times over."―Edward Hallowell, M.D., The Hallowell Centers
"This book is a real turning point that explains something I've been trying to figure out for years. Having experienced symptoms of both ADHD and mild depression, I have personally witnessed the powerful effects of exercise, and I've suspected that the health benefits go way beyond just fitness. Exercise is not simply necessary, as Dr. Ratey clearly shows, it's medicine."―Greg LeMond, Three-time winner of the Tour de France
"SPARK is just what we need-a thoughtful, interesting, scientific treatise on the powerful and positive impact of exercise on the brain. In mental health, exercise is a growth stock and Ratey is our best broker."―Ken Duckworth, M.D., Medical Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness
About the Author
John Ratey, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of numerous bestselling and groundbreaking books, including Driven to Distraction and A User's Guide to the Brain. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has a private practice. Eric Hagerman is a former editor of Popular Science and Outside. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2004, Men's Journal, and PLAY.
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Top Customer Reviews
Spark is an excellent summary of the brain research during the last decade or so that has added to our knowledge of how regular aerobic exercise stimulates better and more effective mental activity. Dr. Ratey considers the impact of such exercise on school-age children . . . and adults with stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficits, hormonal changes, and aging bodies. He also recommends a general exercise regime that seems to optimize what we know today from these studies.
The essence of the book can be found in the observation that optimal brain functioning requires plenty of blood, the right nutrients, a balance of body chemicals designed to help the brain operate, and an ability to grow new cells and connections in the brain. Each of these elements is helped by regular aerobic exercise. The results are often measurable within a few weeks.
So if you thought that aerobic exercise was simply about looking and feeling good, you're wrong. It's also about thinking well and being able to learn. There are longevity and other quality of life benefits as well . . . including reduced incidence of disease and less chance of dementia.
The book also explores that you don't have to do a tremendous amount of exercise to get most of the benefits.
Here are some of the questions to which he responds:
What are some of the most common misconceptions about "the brain-body connection"?
What in fact is true?
How can aerobic exercise physically remodel our brains for peak performance?
Why is physical exercise the best defense against addiction, aggression, ADD, menopause, and even Alzheimer's?
What are the most significant revelations of a fitness program sponsored by the Naperville (IL) public school district in which more than 19,000 children participated?
Why should such a program (with necessary modifications) be made available to other school children?
In the absence of such a program, what can parents do to increase their children's physical exercise? What sacrifices (if any) must be made to accomplish that?
At a minimum, how frequently should we exercise...and for how long?
What are the benefits to be gained even from minimal exercise?Read more ›
I have always felt intuitively that the main thesis of this book is true, and lived by it, but I never had any real evidence for that belief and never thought of looking into it myself. It just seemed self-evident that exercise was a necessary and profitable thing to be doing, even as friends during exam-time would ask how I could possibly waste an hour at the gym with finals the next morning.
Well, the evidence is in (and has been for some time, it seems) and Ratey does a very admirable job of collecting much of it in one place, and explaining it all in way simple enough for absolutely anyone to understand. Yes, he oversimplifies greatly (brain-derived neurotrophic factor becomes 'Miracle-Gro for your brain'), but then that's the idea, to get this message out and increase people's awareness of just how beneficial exercise is for the brain/mind.
This message is examined from almost every conceivable angle, again, all in a very easily-comprehensible way. As I studied neuroscience in undergrad, I was astounded that none of this revolutionary information was being taught. Whether you look at grades, motivation, depression scores, etc. on the behavioral level, or go down to the neural and genetic level in mice, looking at dendrites, BDNF, and so on, every measure suggests that exercise (cardiovascular mostly, but some evidence for strength training as well) has positive effects on mood, memory, motivation, intelligence (IQ) and so on and so forth. The list goes on.Read more ›
The book is well organized, dealing with our ability to learn and achieve academically: to how we become depressed instead of acting out the fight or flight we need to respond to: to the connection between addiction and exercise.
This is a remarkable collection of wisdom. For example, older women who exercise are half as likely to develop dementia as their sedentary sisters. Chronic stress results in a whole bundle of illnesses. Staying well and keeping our brains sharp is a do-it-yourself project.
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to live a healthier, more sane life.
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Most recent customer reviews
What? Oh ya, ADHD! Need I say more! I'm on my treadmill desk as I write this. Great book. Highly recommend to any with ADHD, ADD or seems like one of those!Published 27 days ago by Neil Wilson
Every teacher, every principal, and every person who wants a better approach to getting kids to thrive should read this book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by fergus Horsburgh
I was both amazed by the findings by the authors and very encouraged at the fact that increasing activity, rather than competition per se, was highlighted. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stephen
Flat out astonishing! This book has information that is proven, scientific and "cold hard evidence" of the magic that occurs when you treat yourself to physical exercise... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Michael Janson
This is a fantastic book. If this doesn't give you reason to get active - nothing will! Definately worth reading again and again.Published 17 months ago by Shari
A must read for all--- not just advocating exercise but trumpets it's value psychologically and neurodynamically.Published 17 months ago by William D. Stanish
There's no need to repeat the many positive remarks from other reviewers; I just want to endorse them. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Nikkassofan
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