Book Review - Spark

Book Review

By John J. Ratey
Little, Brown and Company, 294 pages

Spark Book CoverWhat fights depression, rewires the brain for peak performance, increases learning capacity significantly at any age, and costs next to nothing (except for discipline and effort)? Spark author Dr. John J. Ratey argues that aerobic exercise completely transforms the brain. His book is grounded in findings from the frontiers of neuroscience. Aerobic exercise releases neurochemicals and growth factors that bolster the brain’s infrastructure, better connecting neurons. The result? A brain guarded against the effects of stress and aging, and a mind capable of greater attention, focus and calm.

Spark is an important book for anyone with a brain, but it could be a game-changer (or life-saver) for those who suffer from stress, depression, anxiety, addiction, ADHD and hormonal changes. There is a chapter dedicated to each issue, illustrating how aerobic exercise manages it effectively. And betting that readers will be inspired to put principles into play, Ratey provides an exercise regimen to try at home.

Spark has incredible implications. We can’t live to our fullest potential without a regular aerobic program; in fact, we cause harm to our brains with sedentary and stressful lives. And, taken further, aerobic exercise well integrated into schools, addiction programs and mental health programs could genuinely produce better, lasting results.

Spark makes us wonder what we are capable of, if we move our bodies the way nature intended. We have more possibility than we may have dreamed.
— Anna-Marie Ashton

November/December 2011