Last fall I moved a bookcase out of (and back into) the bonus room (putting up a wall makes a mess!) and I realized I have way too many non-fiction books that I’ve never read. I decided to pluck one from the shelves and just start reading! These are bathroom reading book, which means it can take me a while to get through them, but I finally finished the first one earlier this month and it was an eye-opener.
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and The Brain* by John J. Ratey, MD with Eric Hagerman. Copyright 2008. ISBN: 978-0-316-11350-2
(*Amazon Affiliate Link)
Supercharge Your Mental Circuits to Beat Stress, Sharpen Your Thinking, Lift Your Mood, Boost Your Memory, and Much More.
The book blurb says it all! Exercise really does all those things, and much of those effects occur quickly. If you have a difficult task that is going to require a lot of brain power, it’s proven that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise just before you begin your task will sharpen your brain, expand its computing power, and help you more readily focus and retain information for the next couple of hours.
I’m sure the current knowledge on the effects of exercise on the brain has expanded exponentially since this book was written a decade ago, but I learned a lot from reading Spark. And I’ve put that knowledge to work. Since I started reading this book, I’ve been making a concerted effort to include more movement and exercise in my daily life. When I need to go up the stairs for something, I go up and down several times – it only takes a couple more minutes to do so. We set up our Gazelle (elliptical) exercise machine in the living room and both of us are using it daily, hopping on when we have a free five or ten minutes or just when we feel that we need to move a bit. We also have been riding bike on the weekend. And both Bill and I are noticing that we are feeling more energized throughout the day by doing so.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, addiction of any type, attention deficit, or hormonal changes of any sort, or if you want to potentially extend your lifespan and/or your mental abilities, you NEED to read this book. It even comes with a chapter of exercise recommendations and suggestions – very helpful.