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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain, from the bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD.

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 J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this 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---or, for that matter, simply the way you think.

©2008 John J. Ratey (P)2008 Gildan Media Corp

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth it!

An essential read for anyone in the health or fitness industries. Completely blows open the perspective of why exercise is beneficial. Would recommend to everyone.

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Educational and relatable!

Definitely worth listening to. I love the framework of stating a point and providing a short story to drive home the point/s.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great eye opener for anyone about mental health

As a trainer this book was a great look into how exercise really effects mental health and health in general. Me myself have suffered ptsd and suicidal thought patterns and have always used mixed martial arts especially jiu jitsu to help keep me focused and keeps the endorphins flowing. I would recommend for anyone feeling not quite themselves and not sure why or people wanting to know the truth about what exercise done in the brain instead of marketing ploys businesses use to make profits. Love your work and be kind to your mind

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good, but...

I liked it but the science is sometimes difficult to follow for non scientific people.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

I have ADHD, and I've been told a thousand times that exercise is hugely important in my management strategy, but no matter how many times I was told this by doctors, psychologists and other specialists, I never paid much heed. So many doctors give general recommendations as a matter of routine, I'm used to ignoring a lot of them. But knowing the exact reasons WHY it's so important, especially with the scientific explanations, has made me actually take it seriously. This book totally changed the way I view exercise, and it's become a non-negotiable priority for me.

The only negative for me is that when delving into the actual science, explanations of biochemistry and stuff, it was hard to keep up with all the terminology at times - names of neurotransmitters, all their respective functions etc. This is inherent with the subject matter in the audio format though - the science can't be explained without using the correct terms, but when listening you can't slow down for the more complex parts. Some books I've given up going and bought the kindle version instead because they were way too dense for audio, but this one isn't that bad, and overall is quite engaging and easy enough to take in.

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A must read!

Vitally important topic in our modern world. Whilst you can easily grasp the message of the book quickly I quite enjoyed the Science behind the results and the repetition of the key message. The narrator has a great voice and I had no trouble listening to this for lengthy periods of time. I've even started running again!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Just Do It

Exercise is a must for every individual and the desire to change is essential in this world today

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kathleen
  • 02-11-2008

Spark

Inspiring, motivational, fascinating

As a nurse I've long known that exercise is good for us, but John Ratey reinforces why with plenty of terrific studies. The physiology is fascinating, the research current and all presented in a manner that we can apply to our every day lives. I highly recommend this book to all; those of us who already exercise and to those of us who need to.

57 of 58 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roman
  • 17-12-2009

Scientific and motivational

I find this book extremely useful. I prefer books that are scientifically strict and contain no pseudo-motivational bullshit. This book is a great example of how good material makes a great motivation itself.

I have no professional knowledge in medicine, yet still somehow the examples, terms and facts in the book are so really interesting. Yes, the author uses complicated terms quite often, but he really repeats them over and over and always explains briefly what they mean. If you're interested in a particular term, you can always google it and find out some more on the subject. But the book presents a great deal of fresh information, exciting studies and some personal stories. It covers aspects of exercising for different stages of life and genders. By reading it, you will not only understand how to take care of yourself, but how and why you should motivate other people to do exercises.

I'm a programmer and an entrepreneur and I really enjoy learning all the time and getting more knowledge. As well as I enjoy staying fit. But until I read this book, I couldn't mentally connect these two things. I've been lifting weights and doing my cardio for over 4 years now and I've always noticed how they make me feel better, but I didn't know why. And, sometimes the motivation for the workouts slipped away because I couldn't see the measurable results. Now, thanks to the book, I have another source of motivation, which is supported by hundreds of scientific studies and facts.

78 of 81 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • 15-04-2011

Being Disabled

I was born with Cerebral Palsy and confined in a wheelchair for all of my life. I workout at least 3-5 times a week in the gym for at least 90 minutes each day. I know for a fact that working out help me physically and mentally. This book is great. When I'm in the gym, I forget that I'm even disable. More people should workout and promote fitness.

56 of 59 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • techchic
  • 03-10-2008

Loved this book!

I listened to this entire book in just a few days. it is interesting and informative and life changing! I have new motivation to exercise! I never thought about how exercise could affect my mind and happiness. I highly recommend. Wonderful!

55 of 58 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Anonymous
  • 20-07-2014

Interesting at first, but soon becomes repetitive

This book presents some scientific interesting data about the beneficial effects of exercise. However, the book should be treated more as a reference than as a work that you read (or listen to) from start to finish. The author addresses many different health problems, all of which are improved by exercise. After a while, the research findings start to become dull and repetitive. My advice is to read only the chapters that pertain to your particular health issues.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • David Everling
  • 09-04-2011

Excellent exercise motivator!

An excellent exercise motivator! This being a pop-science book it'll be most effective if you're a logically minded person or in need of some explicit reasons to overcome creeping apathy or procrastination. One of the best aspects of a book on exercise is that you can test and verify the essential ideas as they relate to your own experience; I often listened to the audiobook while jogging or at the gym. Knowing more about how something you're doing is good for you is an additional reward in itself, and for me this encapsulates the main value of reading this book.

The book is of course pro-exercise throughout its illustrative anecdotes and in its description of the physiological mechanisms involved, but it does look at a wide variety of experience, from physical pain to depression & mental disorders to everyday moods. Ratey isn't as good as a journalist or fiction writer, but he's clearly a doctor who's explained these ideas to patients and skeptics before, and he provides a reasonable and persuasive case for the substantially positive effects of exercising and elevating heart rate on a regular basis (i.e. in a manner consistent with natural human evolution).

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 28-03-2010

Great book and definitely worth a listen

Fascinating but with practical, useful information as well. As a neuroscience geek, I really enjoyed the book, especially its integrative approach with everything that's known about brain plasticity.

The narrator is excellent as well.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-04-2010

as much "a-ha" as it is "duh"

cold have been shorter only because the author makes the same point more than once. but they are good points. it is well established that regular exercise can improve mood. but this book trys to get into how this process happens. the author does seem to have a bias toward walking and running as the prefered forms of exercise for health. but just understanding how anything done for physical health affects mental health is a great place to start.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Ingrid
  • 09-12-2011

This could change the mental health of our nation!

I don't often re-read books and have never listened to an audio book twice, but I found this book so fascinating and informative that I listened to it twice in a row. This book presents some startling evidence that exercise is not just good for our bodies, but how it actually alters and improves our minds through documented brain changes that take place after even a small amount of exercise. Presented in an accessible format, Ratey shows how doing what we were naturally built to do - move - is some of the best medicine we have, for both physical and mental ills - as well as a way to improve performance on mental tasks. While it would help to have some familiarity with basic neuro terms (like knowing what a neurotransmitter or a synapse is) it's not absolutely necessary' as he does a good job of simply explaining terms as he uses them. I am fascinated with "brain stuff" and have studied a fair amount in this area but learned more from listening to this book than I have from academic books that are specifically about how the brain works (perhaps having the examples of how movement and brain function interact helped to explain the brain part better). I think the listeners who found the book repetitive may have been expecting something other than what he provides here. The "news" comes right up front: exercise has a remarkable effect on the brain and our ability to think. This book provides the evidence, not a flashy sideshow of "breaking headlines". The evidence presented is a steady stream covering many different aspects, from effects on working memory to how exercise influences the treatment of ADHD, addictions, alzheimer's and many other conditions. The narrator generally does a good job, in well modulated tones, although he consistently mispronounces a few key terms (it drove me nuts to hear "hypothalamus" pronounced "hippothalamus" over and over - aren't there "editors" who listen to these audiobooks before releasing them?)

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sher from Provo
  • 09-03-2011

Motivational

I liked this book a lot. I have from time to time been an exercise fanatic. It has been 6 months, though, since I have exercised regularly due to a knee injury, and then a minor foot surgery. I am so ready to get back at it. This book has helped me see just how important exercise is at all ages and in almost every condition. It is the healthy thing to do. And we need to encourage our children to get out and move as well.

With that said, I must say the book itself dragged a little, especially in the middle. A lot of what the author discussed went right over my head, but it was easy to get the general idea. I loved hearing about people who use exercise as a prescribed medication. I am all over that! All in all, there is much to be learned from this book, and I will start my exercise program up again tomorrow because of it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • ianatyler
  • 10-09-2014

slow start but well worth the wait

Would you listen to Spark again? Why?

yes clear easy to listen to

Any additional comments?

just what the doctor ordered.
Highly interesting links between exercise and overall mental and physical health. Well worth the money

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 02-12-2013

Spark to your training !!!!!

Would you listen to Spark again? Why?

Yes. This book offers the reader a really insightful look at the connections between exercise and the mind.

What did you like best about this story?

The interest it has 'Sparked' in my own training routine and that the benefits it has thought me has lead to real improvements in both my fitness level and state of mind.

What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The authors heartfelt belief in his years of study and research is brought to life by the narrator.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The fact that the author believes so strongly that the connection between fitness and the mind and its ability to treat depression is an interesting concept that you can put to the test, if your feeling a little blue.....go for a run !!!! Okay not that simple but is the basis of the concept.

Any additional comments?

Well, well, well worth a read if you are looking for an inspirational kick for your fitness goals.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Julie
  • 08-07-2013

Loved it

What made the experience of listening to Spark the most enjoyable?

The fact that I am interested in health and preventative care.

Would you ever listen to anything by John J. Ratey again?

Yes for sure.

Which character – as performed by Walter Dixon – was your favourite?

The narrrator, only character.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No. It was scientific. It gave me hope though.

Any additional comments?

I would reccomend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • E
  • 13-04-2013

Thought provoking, energising and inspiring!

It was great to hear theories I had backed up by solid real life examples. It is just a shame we don't take these very simple steps to a healthy world. We would all feel so much better if we just made a start and schools are a great place to start.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jens
  • 19-08-2013

Exelent book

What did you like most about Spark?

This book focusede on the main problem we have in the modern world today. As well as showing what the solution is.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Farrukh
  • 26-09-2018

Exercise is medicine

Absolutely loved it, one of the most valuable books that I have ever read. Though I have inclination for sports and exercise, but I will never quit this for the rest of my life after reading. It's a must read and can bring a revolution in one's life, especially if one isn't very active.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-07-2018

Awesome book!

Great narrator! This book improved my understanding of the importance of exercise in your daily lifestyle.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 08-03-2018

A scientific reminder: how mind and body work best

Wonderful proof, although some scientific substances ( chemicals) left me glazing over. The connections between depression and inactivity are turned into helpful, step by step advice to get a stronger, bigger brain!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ruqiyo Ali
  • 25-12-2017

Great book to learn about the benefits of exercis.

Great book to learn about the biological benefits of exercise based on the scientific evidence.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karin from Zambia
  • 20-11-2017

Exercise presented like never before!

The bottom line is that in order to maximise your pure enjoyment of being alive you MUST read this book. you cannot afford not to.