The motto of this book might as well be “Mens sana in corpore sano.” But it’s far more than just a motto.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain is written by John J. Ratey, MD. He’s an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. In fact, Ratey has published over 60 peer-review papers! In terms of expertise in the brain-fitness connection, you would be hard pressed to find a person with more comprehensive knowledge.
Despite his academic credentials and background, Spark is really well written and extremely accessible for anyone. Whether you like anecdotes, scientific evidence, or just plain logic, this book will give very compelling arguments for getting your body in shape in order to help out your mind.
The introductory and featured case study in this book is the Naperville Physical Education Program. Naperville, in 1999, scored first in the world in science and sixth in math according to the TIMSS study. In a study which showed America’s STEM education slipping behind other countries, Naperville was the obvious exception. You’ll meet the key players in this PE revolution within the first couple chapters of this book.
Along the journey that Ratey takes you on, you’ll learn about the physical effects of exercise on your brain. The new research that has come out in the last 5-10 years is absolutely incredible. These physical changes are related to people with healthy brains and those with ADHD, depression, and alzheimer’s among other disorders.
This book has encouraged me to get in the habit of starting my day out with running next semester at college. This has to be the most comprehensive book on exercise targeted at the general public. This book may very well change your life, and I mean that in the most serious way. I would encourage everyone from high schoolers to retirees to read this book.