Daily Grateful: Exercise and the Brain

January 7, 2014

Not new news, but always a good, gentle reminder that exercise does the most amazing things for your body and your brain. According to Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.

“Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance. In SPARK, John Ratey, MD embarks upon a fascinating journey through the mind-body connection, illustrating that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to menopause to Alzheimer’s.

Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, that has put the local school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run. It works on anxiety, on panic disorder, and on stress in general, which has a lot to do with depression…and generates the release of neurotransmitters—norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine—that are very similar to our most important psychiatric medicines. Oh, and by the way, exercise also gets rid of cortisol–that damaging fight or flight hormone–from your system.


The more you do it, the more you do it. The more you do something, the more you’ll want to repeat it due to your brain’s neural network recorder–it’s the same with exercise as it is with any mental activity.  So get up and and get your workout on, and keep doing it, because the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. That’s your brain’s plasticity at work!

Need a quick workout but no time? Try the Max Capacity Bodyweight workout--it’s 16 minutes, super simple, and you’ll feel it, but feel great afterward!

Yours in Mental Hygiene,

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The Ancient Brain and Modern Mindfulness

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