SEARCH:       Friday, June 21, 2024
subscribe to our e-newsletter

Fitness Tip of the Day!
Exercise Recommendations For: Kids
Most authorities agree that kids need a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day. Some believe that 90 minutes of exercise per day is necessary to adequately reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and heart disease.

SPARK! How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain

Author: Ratey JJ, Hagerman E
Category: Health/Fitness
Audience: Consumer
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Quercus
  Year Published: 2008
List Price: $16.00® Rating: Excellent!

SPARK! How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain is a fascinating review of the effects of exercise on brain anatomy and brain function.

• Recommended for: anyone who wishes to avoid developing dementia.


• John J. Ratey, MD is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard. He also maintains a private psychiatric practice in Cambridge, MA.


This 292-page book is fascinating reading. Dr. Ratey is both an academic professor and a practicing health care professional. Because of that, at times the content has a medical/scientific flavor. But, this does not make this book over the heads of the average reader.

The author addresses stress, depression, attention-deficit disorder, addiction, learning, and the effects of hormones. On p. 55, he describes a study done in Japan showing that jogging several times per week for 12 weeks improved cognitive function. On p. 114, he points out that, in Great Britain, exercise is regarded as a "therapeutic agent" for the management of depression, but states that exercise is "vastly underutilized" in the US. On p. 148, he cites research showing that adolescent boys with ADHD improve when enrolled in a martial arts program.

This kind of "concrete" evidence is why more attention should be focused on the benefits of exercise by the medical profession. Summarizing this research is why I liked this book.

However, the author does bring up neuroanatomy details from time to time, such as when he explains brain neurotransmitters. Personally, I found these kinds of statements supported the discussion, not detract from it. I point that out only to make you aware that some of that kind of discussion exists, not to suggest you avoid reading this very insightful book.

Photos & Illustrations: This book does not contain any photos or illustrations.

Tables & Graphs: This book does not contain any tables or graphs.

Documentation / Accuracy: This is not a scientific book, per se, but it does have a medical/health flavor. Though the author does summarize clinical research, the book does not, however, list any research citations either in the body of the text, or at the end of the book.

What I Liked About This Book: The author is a qualified academic and clinician. He explores the benefits of exercise on the brain from the perspective of anatomical/physiologic effects, and, from the perspective of functional benefits.

What Could Be Better: At times, some discussions might be a bit too medical/scientific.


In summary, SPARK! How Exercise Will Improve the Performance of Your Brain is well done and is a useful book. I think all adults should read this book. While Alzheimer's disease is generally irreversible and its onset is insidious, other causes of dementia appear to be preventable with regular exercise (and regular consumption of fish!). However, once a person is old and frail makes it very difficult to reverse. Thus, preventing it, or, at least reducing its rate of development is critical. This book is recommended reading for everyone.

Copyright ©2014 AthleteInMe, LLC. All rights reserved.

Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 10/1/2020 1:08:35 PM

Home | Fitness Tools | Library | Sports Nutrition | About Us | Contact Us | Copyright ©2004-2024 AthleteInMe, LLC

Privacy Statement |  Terms Of Use