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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain Paperback – January 1, 2013
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"This is my self-help book for the season."―Houston Chronicle
"At last a book that explains to me why I feel so much better if I run in the morning!"―Dr. Susan M. Love, author of Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book and Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book
"SPARK is just what we need. 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
"This book is a real turning point that explains something I've been trying to figure out for years. 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 mercifully short on Ivy League med-school-speak. And it may just spell the end of all dumb-jock jokes."―Outside Magazine
"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"
"Bravo! An extremely important book. What Cooper did decades ago for exercise and the heart, Ratey does in SPARK for exercise and the brain. An utterly convincing and brilliantly documented ground-breaking work...So, get moving! Your brain will thank you and repay you many times over."―Edward Hallowell, M.D., The
"Ratey has culled the latest science and found that a regular workout can help build a better, faster brain."―USA Today
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
I would recommend this book to readers who like: to learn about the effects of exercise on the brain.
The book begins with Ratey and Hagerman presenting a case study of a school system in Illinois that has implemented a unique type of Physical Education curriculum that focuses on improving the overall health of enrolled students. By performing team-building physical exercises such as rock climbing, relay running, and swimming, students condition their bodies and minds. The school also helps students feel less self-conscious about their physical abilities by having them compete against themselves. For instance, instead of having the students run and race against each other they challenge students to beat their previous running times. After implementing this system, administrators noticed an increase in standardized test scores throughout the school district. Compared to before the institution of the Physical Education program. The authors then move on to explain how exercising can enhance learning from a unique scientific perspective: exercise can make neuron’s dendrites branch out according to research being conducted. In addition, Ratey provides the reason why and how exercise can mitigate stress and improve the mood of patients with depression by increasing endorphins. Ratey and Hagerman then complete their study with how exercise can help drug addicts regain self-control and learn self-discipline by abiding to a strict exercise regiment. The authors conclude the book with how exercise can help aging people maintain neural plasticity and amplify their memory and learning through their old age.
I thought that the book was well written and it was easy to understand. It had me hooked from the start. I thought that beginning the book with the Illinois School System case study was an excellent idea and provided the framework and evidence for the rest of the cases to build on. The case study also helped put into perspective how important exercise can be not only to adults but also to children. I also liked how the book used very simple terms and explained in depth what a scientific term meant if it were used so the reader could understand. By explaining scientific concepts in depth it let people with even no scientific background enjoy the book and understand the overall message. For instance when describing the function of neurotransmitters, the authors use the analogy of neurotransmitters being like radio waves from one neuron to another. When the authors described the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter such as GABA, they suggested it was like signaling a stop signal from neuron to neuron or to an effector cell/organ. From a neuroscience perspective, I enjoyed the exciting new research that is being conducted and how the authors presented the new concepts. For example, the authors stated that the presence of brain-derived neutropic factors (BDNF) acts like neuron fertilizer, and causes dendrites to grow and branch from neurons. They also talked about how BDNF can encourage long-term potentiation by making more ion channels open, thus causing a stronger voltage change and therefore signal. Reading the book really “sparked” my interest in the topic and I would enjoy learning more and maybe conducting laboratory researching in the future about the subject as it is a newly discovered concept.
All in all, I believe that Spark was an expertly written book that helped me to gain better understanding of the connection of exercise and enhanced brain health. It also helped to trigger my interest in new and developing neuroscience concepts and fields which I hope to learn more about in the near future. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in neuroscience or even exercise. Anyone person with an interest in neuroscience will be captivated from the start.
I have exercised regularly all my life (now in my 60's) with the reason that it makes me feel better, look better, stay healthier, and able to more easily do a lot of activities and sports that I enjoy. I have usually exercised 3 to 4 days per week since college. This book made me reflect more thoroughly on how my exercise has helped me to think better, and more clearly, and be more effective at my work and my social life. I realized that on those particularly mornings when I have done an aerobic workout I have actually felt more focused, more relaxed, and thought more clearly. I realized that the same result had occurred over and over again for me, and it did not occur on the days when I did not get that morning workout, and I also realized that that was just what Ratey was talking about in this book, and that was what the studies' data showed.
As a result of reading the book I made it a practice of getting an aerobic workout (20 minutes) every morning. It has now been 5-1/2 months and I don't think I have missed a day. It works and it continues to work. I lead a very busy life. I have a stressful business, and travel a lot. No matter where I am and no matter how little sleep I am getting, each day I continue to get by on 30 minutes less sleep so I can squeeze in that morning workout. I cannot imagine ever not doing it. It simply works. Every day I can feel the difference in the clarity of my thinking in everything I do.
Thank you Mr. Ratey.