Spark by Dr. John J. Ratey : 5 Quick Lessons

Today, of course, there’s no need to forage and hunt to survive. Yet our genes are coded for this activity, and our brains are meant to direct it. Take that activity away, and you’re disrupting a delicate biological balance that has been fine-tuned over half a million years. Quite simply, we need to engage our endurance metabolism to keep our bodies and brains in optimum condition. The ancient rhythms of activity ingrained in our DNA translate roughly to the varied intensity of walking, jogging, running, and sprinting. In broad strokes, then, I think the best advice is to follow our ancestors’ routine: walk or jog every day, run a couple of times a week, and then go for the kill every now and then by sprinting.

John J. Ratey MD – Spark

If you’re already addicted to exercise this book will explain to you why that’s the best addiction you could have. If you can’t seem to stick to an exercise routine, this book will motivate you to keep trying until you find one that works because the benefits of exercise are AMAZING! When you exercise regularly you essentially turn yourself into Wolverine from X-men with the mind of Yoda from Star Wars (hey, I put nerdy right into the website name for a reason). Spark is definitely a book I recommend, I’ve read it a few times and it always motivates me. Here are 5 quick lessons learned from Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by Dr. John J. Ratey.

If your brain isn’t actively growing, then it’s dying. Exercise is one of the few ways to counter the process of aging because it slows down the natural decline of the stress threshold.

John J. Ratey MD – Spark

1 – Exercise will prolong your life!

In Spark, Dr. Ratey shares countless studies that conclude that maintaining a regular exercise routine will prolong one’s life. The science delves into the details of what happens when someone is exercising and it’s pretty fascinating! The book details that it won’t only help us live longer lives, but one at a higher quality when it comes to general health as well! When physically active, you protect your body from injury, and if you do get injured nonetheless, you speed up the healing time! … see what I mean? Wolverine.

As for the trait, the majority of studies show that aerobic exercise significantly alleviates symptoms of any anxiety disorder. But exercise also helps the average person reduce normal feelings of anxiousness.

John J. Ratey MD – Spark

Calm down

If anything else, life can be rather stressful in the modern world with average households barely scraping by despite having two full-time income providers. But stress and anxiety is the root of a world of illness. Think of the movie Patch Adams, there is truth in relaxing, and laughing your way through healing. When stress, you aggravate illnesses, so calming down should be a goal we all have! Meditation is another effective method, but exercise is the reigning champion in stress-reducing activities.

In Britain, doctors now use exercise as a first-line treatment for depression, but it’s vastly underutilized in the United States, and that’s a shame.

John J. Ratey MD – Spark

Fight depression

The US is not only known, worldwide for being the country with the highest obesity rate, but it’s also starting to get recognized for the country that consumes the most pharmaceutical drugs for mental health-related issues. The book showcases what other countries are doing to promote the natural benefits of physical exercise, but the US has a long way to grow that way. When a multi-billion dollar industry is thriving in a country, do you think the promotion of Natural Remedies get taken well?

Paradoxically, one of the best treatment strategies for ADHD involves establishing extremely rigid structure. Over the years, I’ve heard countless parents offer the same observation about their ADHD children: Johnny is so much better when he’s doing tae kwon do.

John J. Ratey MD – Spark

Improve focus

You’ve made it this far and I applaud your uncanny ability to focus. Don’t feel like it’s a big deal? In the age of smartphones, social media-addiction and instant messaging, our general ability to focus has tremendously decreased! Imagine being the only one that was able to pay attention? Maybe this is what all of the Zombie apocalypse movies are about afterall, smart gadget addictions. In Spark, the author shares an amazing case-study that follows a very large group of students who aren’t doing well academically, but change only the amount of physical activity they did at school and the results were phenomenal.

Exercise seems to be more than just not harmful, though. In one study, Clapp compared thirty-four newborns of exercisers to thirty-one of sedentary mothers five days after birth. There’s only so much you can do to gauge behavior at this early stage, but the babies from the exercise group “performed” better on two of six tests: they were more responsive to stimuli and better able to quiet themselves following a disturbance of sound or light. Clapp sees this as significant because it suggests that infants of exercising mothers are more neurologically developed than their counterparts from sedentary mothers.

Have healthier babies

Of course I had to include this fact! As a self-proclaimed Fit-mom, I have to share that the days when all of the pregnancy symptoms were unbearable, the only thing that worked, was exercise. So the baby will be healthier, the pregnancy and labor will be easier and I’ll bounce-back more quickly? … where do I sign?

There you have it! 5 quick lessons of the countless ones found in the book, Spark. There is no way to summarizing a book with only 5 quick lessons, so I urge you to pick up up and learn more about this fascinating topic. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week.


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