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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Paperback – January 1, 2013
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"I enthusiastically recommend this book...If your goal is to live a long and healthy life to the fullest then Spark should be required reading."―Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., "Father of Aerobics"
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Ratey dwelves in physiological details how exercise boosts the levels of various neurotransmitters, hormones, and proteins which in turn positively affect our overall health and cognitive capabilities including memory, learning, mood regulation.
Ratey conveys what specific type of exercises assist specific health situation and cognitive functions. There are tens of related interesting insights throughout the book. I am just mentioning a few examples below.
1) BMI and aerobic fitness are significant markers of academic performance.
2) Three neurotransmitters play a preponderant role in managing our moods, attention, perception, motivation, and movement. They are serotonin (mood), norepinephrine (focus), and dopamine (reward-system, movement). And, the pharmaceutical industry has focused on them: boosting serotonin to manage anxiety and depression; increasing dopamine to manage Parkinson). However, exercise boosts all three without any negative side effects.
3) Norepinephrine boosts the signal quality of synaptic transmission, while dopamine decreases the noise of neuron chatter. Together, they reduce ADHD and enhance learning.
4) Neurogenesis means we can grow neurons at any age. Stress, anxiety, and depression impair neurogenesis. But, exercise fights off those conditions and enhances neurogenesis.
5) A protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), builds and maintain neurons and neuron networks. BDNF facilitates the learning process and is important for long-term memories. In addition to synaptic plasticity, BDNF also plays a role in energy metabolism. BDNF also ramps up serotonin levels that help with mood, depression, anxiety. And, exercise boosts BDNF levels.
6) An optimal exercise program combines a skill acquisition exercise and a aerobic one. Tennis and biking fits that. Skill exercise strengthens and expands neural networks. The more complex the movements the more complex the synaptic connections. Aerobic exercise enhances mood by boosting the levels of all three mentioned neurotransmitters.
7) You should vary the intensity of exercise. High intensity exercise boosts the human growth hormone (HGH) which also boosts BDNF. In combination, these are like a fountain of youth.
8) Doing squats can be as effective in boosting HGH levels as running hard for 30 minutes.
9) Paleolithic humans walked and ran 5 to 10 miles a day just to eat. Our sedentary lifestyle is not catered to our DNA, and explains the obesity crisis.
10) Active people reduce their cancer risk by 50%.
11) Every 50 minutes of weekly exercise correlates with a 50% drop in risk of depression.
12) Briskly walking 5 hours a week reduces the risk of gestational diabetes by 75%.
13) Women over 65 who remain physically active are 50% less likely to develop dementia.
14) Diabetes increases your risk of developing dementia by 65%. High cholesterol increases it by 43%. Exercise can assist with both conditions.
15) Exercise prevents inflammation that triggers the plaque accumulation in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease.
16) Among individuals over 75, the ones with higher blood glucose levels (but who were still not diabetic) had a 77% higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
17) Being overweight doubles the chances of developing dementia. And, when combined with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the risk increases sixfold.
18) Exercise reduces the risk of colon cancer by 50%.
As a retired doc ,I was unaware of the new developments in the complex organ which houses our intelligence and our souls.
Dr.Ratey has the ability to explain function so even a doctor can understand.
I graduated med school in '59 and retired a few years ago.
The amount and intracracy of information is mind boggling and I don't know how the busy clinician finds the time to keep up
particularly while being overwhelmed -- created by a bureaucracy which is drowning and hence diminishing what was once the most gratifying
occupation that one can be priviledged to engage in
Pardon spelling and punctuation am old,senile man who is just learning how to type and forgotten how to spell
Top international reviews
Anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, ADHD needs to have a read or listen to this.