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Spark!: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain Paperback – 7 Jan 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

Forget fish oil and sudoku - it's exercise that makes you brainier . This book is the first time scientific evidence from all over the world has been pulled together to show that the fitter you are, the better your brain works' Daily Mail. (Daily Mail)

If exercise came in pill form, it would be plastered across the front page, hailed as the blockbuster drug of the century. So what you waiting for? Get moving!' Focus Magazine. (Focus Magazine)

From the Back Cover

Do you want to: Supercharge your thinking? Beat stress? Reverse ageing? Lift your mood? Fight memory loss? Sharpen your intellect?
The answer is simple - get up and move!
We all know that exercise is good for the body. But did you know that it can transform your mind? This new scientific revolution will teach you how to boost brain cells, protect yourself against mental illness and dementia, and ensure success in exams and the workplace.
Follow the SPARK! training regimen and build your brain to its peak performance. This book will change the way you think about exercise - and, for that matter, the way you think.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book and it provides us with another very powerful reason why we should exercise. Anyone who has ever exercised on a consistent basis will attest to the benifits and now this new research makes it even more important that we develop an exercise program that we can enjoy and that has the power to lift depression, make us more sociable, grows more brain cells, improves our mememory, keeps dementia at bay and so on. In an era where psychiatrists are keener than ever to prescribe anti-depressants that often have the most horendeous side effects its great news to know there is a better way to help ourselves. In many ways the whole concept makes perfect sense but when Ratey provides the research to support the ideas then we can easily see why it is so.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read a lot about the brain in the last decade, and I thought this book was the most helpful summary I've seen of what to do differently. The thinking person is the person who aerobically exercises regularly.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This is a decent book with an optimistic message. We can alter our brain growth, chemistry and function by the simple expedient of moving ourselves and doing some exercise. The exercise will boost our physical and mental effectiveness, and counteract, or prevent entirely, our tendencies to be anxious, down, depressed, irritable, poor concentration or "hormonal". Exercise will boost the function of our brains and our bodies to our own and our family's, friends' and colleagues' benefits.

Exercise does this by boosting BDGF and rebalancing the levels of sertraline, norepinephrine (noradrenalin) and dopamine and by helping it get the right balance of excitatory and inhibitory traffic across synapses. The microscopic effects lead on the good macroscopically observable (psychological) effects we can feel and observe. Oh and the exercise is helping your body develop well too.

By the time you have read this book you will have come to realise that exercise is a GOOD THING for your brain and your body. As animals we are meant to move, and we feel better when we travel a certain distance each day under our own efforts.

The real question is does the author establish his case fully? I think mostly he does, but we are taking a lot on trust here. It is obvious in the text that at times the author is referring to specific papers (as he should be in a text making large claims as this one does). The corresponding references are not given so we have to take the author's assertion and we cannot check the references for ourselves. So we are having to take the facts presented on trust...although the author does come across as trustworthy. The lack of references does make for faster reading, but as the book is not long they could have been given.(..
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Format: Hardcover
With Eric Hagerman, John Ratey has written a book in which he explains -- in layman's terms (to the extent that is possible) -- how physical exercise can "supercharge [provide a `spark' to] mental circuits to avoid or overcome stress, sharpen thinking, lift mood, increase memory...and much more." Obviously, these are all highly desirable results to achieve. Alas, many children as well as adults are out of (physical) shape, do not eat properly, and continue under severe stress to meet their obligations. The implications of what Ratey explains and recommends should be of special interest to young adults, their parents, school administrators, teachers, and coaches as well as to business executives who are responsible for the performance of those whom they supervise.

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?
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