Health experts have long touted the role of exercise in preventing and treating diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — but for many people, the promise of a healthier body isn’t enough to get them (or keep them) moving. In Spark, John J. Ratey, MD, makes a compelling case for exercising to boost brain function — which may be far more motivating for some.
The author spells out the remarkable role that aerobic exercise plays in alleviating common conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and stress. He details the stabilizing and stimulating effect of exercise on hormones and neurotransmitters that affect learning, motivation, and mood — and how exercise combats the cognitive decline that comes with aging. Throughout the book, Dr. Ratey shares case studies and explains research to help you understand why exercise is critical for short-term and long-term brain function — and how exercise can even alter brain structure, stimulating the growth of new brain cells and increasing the size of brain areas responsible for high-level thinking.
Without a background in health science, you might get bogged down in the detailed explanations of brain anatomy and physiology — but if you hang in there, Ratey makes it worth the effort. Along with the science, he provides practical tips for applying research findings to everyday workouts — making this book is a captivating read for fitness professionals, fitness enthusiasts, and anyone interested in improving and preserving mental sharpness and emotional well-being.
What we liked:
- Compelling summary of recent research on exercise and the brain
- Case studies and research summaries illuminate main points
- Easy to understand tips for optimizing brain health through exercise
What we didn't like:
- Some sections may be too technical for the layperson
May 25, 2010