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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
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Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  7,651 Ratings  ·  967 Reviews
A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain, from the bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD.

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is i
...more
Audiobook, 9 pages
Published September 17th 2008 by Gildan Media Corp (first published January 1st 2008)
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Bill Yeadon The book does have some very basic information about how much and how long you should exercise at an aerobic level. He spends a lot of time on…moreThe book does have some very basic information about how much and how long you should exercise at an aerobic level. He spends a lot of time on different areas where people can benefit such as addition, pregnancy, disease prevention and especially how it can replace many of the antidepressants such as Prozac. The book is technical in many places but most enjoyable.
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Stuart Black Legitimate. I suspect some bias on the part of the author when choosing which studies to cite (informally) in the book, but as a student of medicine I…moreLegitimate. I suspect some bias on the part of the author when choosing which studies to cite (informally) in the book, but as a student of medicine I can, to a reasonable degree, certify that the science is all sound. Also, the logical and pragmatic layman would, I'm quite sure, agree with the content of the book; it doesn't request or require any leaps of faith by the reader in order for her to fully engage and sympathise with the overall notion that exercise is positive for the brain in the numerous ways proposed.(less)

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Ensiform
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, work
The author attempts to explain for the layman, but ends up using masses of neurological jargon and acronyms, about the role exercise plays in sharpening our mental processes. Boiling it down to the basics: moving our muscles produces proteins that play roles in neurogenesis and the repair of synapses. It also helps the production of hormones such as serotonin and norepinephrine that regulate mood. Therefore, Ratey argues, daily sustained aerobic exercise is a sure cure-all for depression, ADHD, ...more
Clif Hostetler
Exercise is the single most powerful tool available to optimize brain function. That is the message from this book. Everybody knows that exercise creates a fit body, but what many forget is that the brain is part of the body too. Modern science has been able to learn much about how the brain works, and has even tracked neurogenesis (i.e. new cell growth) in the brain in response to exercise. The old saying, "Once your brain cells die, they can’t grow back," is a myth.

This book has chapters about
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Nicole
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gets a bit repetitive after awhile (I quit after reading about 3/4 of it), and the conclusions he drew from some of the research studies seemed to really be stretching what you could reasonably conclude from the actual results.

But it did convince me that I had to start exercising after being pretty sedentary for the last 4 or 5 years. And six months later, I'm still convinced and still exercising...so I guess it had a bigger positive impact on my life than most things I read.
Hans
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students, People with ADHD, Depression, and those who want to live forever.
Incredible read. Everyone knows the benefits of exercise on the muscles and heart but now studies have discovered what it does to the brain, which is even more impressive.

The last couple of years has had an explosion of Neuroscience books. What is even more unbelievable is that the researchers have actually decided to share what they are discovering in a way anyone can understand instead of the typical closed circle of academia.

To some extent the discoveries aren't surprising, but then it is al
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Niki
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was well written and extremely persuasive. It got me back into fitness again & I'm thankful.
Vivian
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're the kind of person who needs to be intellectually convinced by mountains of research to confirm something you already know - as I am - and you're trying desperately to start a regular exercise habit - as I am - you need to run and get this book, like, yesterday. I'm actually very serious: I have a very athletic husband, who is the epitome of healthy living, as an example in front of me every day; I've read tons of articles about the benefits of exercise, and have known for practically ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
To be fair, I skimmed this book for bits that were relevant to me. I read chapter 3: Stress, very carefully. It was a revelation to discover that the body actually creates glucose as part of the stress reaction, and shuts down cells from processing it so that it remains available for immediate energy, leftover from back when stress was always physical danger.

All sorts of connections to my own health - made.

"One of the ways exercise optimizes energy usage is by triggering the production of more
...more
Kate
Oh my god. According to this book I am a walking recipe for Alzheimer's disease. This is a book by a Harvard psychiatrist about the link between mental health and exercise. As life-long depression sufferer with not one, but two parents who suffer/ed from Alzheimer's, I'm pretty much in the exponentially high risk category for dementia. But there is hope, if I get off my ass and start exercising.

The author covers, not only the brain physiology of exercise in relation to aging, depression, anxiety
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David
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with a brain
This book is a review of much of the research that has been published in the past decade or so, on the subject of exercise's effects on the brain. It is an absolutely first-rate book. I have read a lot about how exercise improves one's mood. But I had not realized the many other benefits to one's brain, intelligence, memory, problem solving, that are induced by exercise. The very first chapter describes how a strong school exercise program has benefited an entire school district. Exercise can ac ...more
Sambasivam Mani
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Must-Read book. At this modern age bad habits and laziness are killing people. To save lives and have a healthy life exercise is must. This book reveals the secret that exercise will strengthen our brain and body together.

People who are addicted to bad habits get addicted to it because they need the pleasure to overcome depression, anger, stress and pain. This book tells us how to avoid bad habits and start exercising. People who thinks that exercise is an additional work or burden should read
...more
Rebecca
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Liz
Shelves: audio-books
I'm torn on the number of stars I want to give this book. I love the message of the book and it has truly changed the way I think about exercise! = 4/5 stars. But, as a non-scientist, I felt bogged down by the (loooong) sections that tried to explain how certain processes work in the brain. = 2/3 stars. He "proves" his theories with all the scientific stuff, but I'd honestly rather just take his word for it than have him try to explain it. Even though I listened to every word, I pretty much stil ...more
Mario Tomic
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The big idea of the book is very simple: Physical activity is a necessary part of our evolution to develop ourselves both physically and mentally. John Ratey, the author, starts the book with a hypothesis that we have developed superior brains because we're creatures that need to move to find food. Adding on to that exercise keeps us sharp through several neuro-pathways that helps us learn the best ways to manage our food, predict how our environments work and remember all of this for the future ...more
Alex
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a gym teacher, I am all about movement. I want my kids to be active and engaged for as much of class as possible. But even though I was already on the exercise bandwagon, I had no idea how extensive the benefits of exercise really are. In Spark, John Ratey explains why the benefits of exercise to the heart, lungs, and muscles, are secondary to the benefits of exercise to the brain. The first chapter is the most engaging, where he shows how a few rogue school systems boosted test scores and lo ...more
Shaw
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this. Amazing information on fitness and American education. Listening to the miracle of feel good hormones and neurotransmitters that fire during exercise gave me the intellectual understanding of exercise I needed to help motivate me to be consistent in my fitness schedule. Learn faster, learn better, reverse aging, decrease anxiety, get happy, read Spark.
Deanna
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, nonfiction
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey takes a fascinating look at the relationship between exercise and brain function. Citing numerous scientific studies as well as various anecdotal stories, Ratey looks at the benefits of exercise relative to learning, stress, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, hormonal changes, and aging. Anyone looking for some motivation to exercise or to improve their consistency is certain to find something in the text. Most ...more
David Everling
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent exercise motivator! This being a pop-science book it'll be most effective if you're a logically minded person or in need of some explicit reasons to overcome creeping apathy or procrastination. One of the best aspects of a book on exercise is that you can test and verify the essential ideas as they relate to your own experience; I often listened to the audiobook while jogging or at the gym. Knowing more about how something you're doing is good for you is an additional reward in itse ...more
El
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book assigned for the kid's phys ed class in high school. I pre-read it as I tend to pre-read all her assigned books but...it's gotten us up and moving! Lots of why's and how's here, and like my general unease that we're not evolved enough to eat processed food, we're also not evolved enough to be as sedentary as we are. We're long-distance runners trapped in our cars, on our work computers, and on our tv-watching bottoms...it's no wonder why our lifestyle slowly, painfully, kills us. ...more
Anna Carr
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to
4* to this book for making me run in the morning. Yes, (nearly) every day.

I used to find it extremely boring and exhausting in the past and, to tell the truth, I still do. But now I do it with a sense of mission to rewire the brain. The thing is that I am already quite sporty and I understand the importance of getting to the gym at least 3 times a week (yes, that often). But after this book, I also understood that exercise could be a kind of replacement therapy for a great many things that happe
...more
Jack
Nov 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Exercise is good for the brain. Okay, that's credible, could you tell me more? The authors begin with a very promising anecdote about a school in Naperville. I find it compelling. Then they proceed to ramble through a supposed survey of the modern neuroscientific literature. This might be genius. It might be crap. And I can't tell after having read the book, and that's definitely for crap.

I am enormously sympathetic to the challenges of writing a scientific book for the lay public. It's hard. I
...more
Cj
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like to move. I don't dread exercise, I enjoy it. My problem is that I tend to relegate exercise into the category of "fun" instead of "necessity". Because of this, I am always on the look out for ways to remind myself that exercise is essential. In that regard Spark is extremely handy. I don't like exercising because it is "healthy"; I find that reasoning way too wishy-washy for my brain to wrap around. I like looking good. But I suppose I'm just not shallow enough to devote my time to my own ...more
Stacy
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book spells out the variety of positive effects that exercise has on a person's brain. Ratey explains how the human brain has evolved to benefit in many ways from physical activity, including mood regulation, anxiety moderation, higher ability to learn, even staving off mental deterioration. He then details how exercise has benefitted particular subgroups, such as those with ADHD or depression, pregnant women, and the elderly. Despite discussing some unfamiliar neurochemical names, the narr ...more
Rolando Gill
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the most important book you will never read! The research and its conclusions are mind blowing. If you just read the first couple of chapters you will start to move. Throughout the book the author repeatedly demonstrates that exercise is the best way to improve your life experience. This book could change the planet, if only everyone would read it.
Roma Jones
I was interested in the science behind this idea, and it did motivate me to get off my butt, But I quickly became bored due to the repetitivness of the information and had to skim the rest
Andrea
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! It changes the way you think about exercise. Not only is exercise good for your body, it does amazing things for your brain. Definitely recommend this book!
Katie
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-better-me
This book was offered for reading at my school as part of a grant which funds a before-school fitness program for students.
I have told my own kids for years that their brain needs to be exercised just like their muscles; as the author reiterates, use it or lose it! However, I was usually thinking of mental exertion. For example, I told the the kids that's why they had to memorize poetry, or sing math facts. This book takes an angle that I had not considered: that the brain needs physical activit
...more
Kater Cheek
My friend recommended this to me as good solid research for how exercise improves your brain. Not only does exercise make you think faster, it also improves your mood, makes you live longer, and can reverse soem of the effects of aging. Ratey's book makes aerobic exercise sound like a snake-oil panacea, except that he backs it up with evidence as to what it's doing at a chemical level.

Even though I've read more than one book on neurology, some of the biochemistry in this went over my head. I wou
...more
Cara
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cara by: Dani
Totally fascinating so far. Exercise helps you learn by making your brain grow. Holy crap!

...

What I love about this book is the way he explains everything in scientific detail--no oversimplification or handwaving. The explanation of the stress response really brought together and cleared up a few other things I had read about how stress affects your body. Now I feel like I really understand it. He gives the full story, yet the style is engaging and never obfuscated. This is the best thing I've r
...more
Marcelo Bahia
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cognitive, health, sports
This book really deserves a 5-star rating. Not because it's one of those "almost perfect" books, but because of the meaningful impact it will probably have in the life of the reader.

You'll be eager and excited to seriously insert exercise in your daily routine after reading this. The positive consequences mentioned in the book are all really visible to anyone after a few weeks or months of training.

When I first saw the book, I thought "how could anyone write a WHOLE book on the relationship betw
...more
Angela Coan
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I don't often recommend books to large groups of people, but this book has information about something crucial to daily life! And it applies to everyone. Are you human and alive? This books applies.

The book can be of tremendous help to get people motivated to exercise, but it also gives understanding about how exercise impacts our brain and overall health. The research runs the gamut from fetal development to old age, and many disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD.

There is so much sc
...more
Megan Olsen
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting and motivating discussion of the different ways that exercise benefits your brain, as opposed to your weight. Very refreshing to read all about the mental health benefits of consistent, 20-minute cardio workouts, instead of the mass of "literature" we have about working out to look good.

The author goes through several sections:
-depression
-anxiety
-ADD and focus problems
-Chronic Stress
-Literacy and Learning
-PMS and menopausal symptoms
-Dementia
-osteoporosis
-Immune System issues

I
...more
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Brain Science Pod...: * BSP 111 Exercise and the Brain 5 39 Nov 20, 2014 11:59AM  
FULL Creative Lib...: Spark 1 7 Mar 05, 2014 01:51PM  
  • The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer
  • The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better
  • The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health
  • The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being
  • Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
  • The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life
  • Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
  • Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves
  • Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation
  • The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God
  • Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good
  • Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
  • Whole Body Barefoot Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear
  • Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals
  • Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done
  • You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible Of Bodyweight Exercises For Men And Women
  • The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking
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Dr. Ratey and Dr. Hallowell began studying ADHD in the 1980s and co-authored Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood (1994), the first in a series of books that demystify the disorder. Dr. Ratey also co-authored Shadow Syndromes (1997) with Catherine Johnson, PhD, in which he describes the phenomenon of milder forms of clinical ...more
More about John J. Ratey

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“At every level, from the microcellular to the psychological, exercise not only wards off the ill effects of chronic stress; it can also reverse them. Studies show that if researchers exercise rats that have been chronically stressed, that activity makes the hippocampus grow back to its preshriveled state. The mechanisms by which exercise changes how we think and feel are so much more effective than donuts, medicines, and wine. When you say you feel less stressed out after you go for a swim, or even a fast walk, you are.” 15 likes
“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection. —Plato” 7 likes
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