Book of the day: Spark the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

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Book of the day: Spark the Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey

I was pretty "meh” about the first half of this book, then one day it clicked and I started to relate to large sections of the book. The back half of the book felt like a study of myself. I’m not a big depression guy, but I’m a big believer in exercise can cure almost anything, especially a mental funk. I’m also an endurance athlete and that should count towards my bias.

In Spark, my largest takeaway was how John Ratey discusses how people with ADHD need stress in there life. When things are going well for someone with ADHD, the person has the tendency to sabotage themselves. An example in the book being relationships. You and your significant other could be having a great few months and suddenly, that smooth sailing isn’t good for the ADHD partner who will introduce stress into the relationship simply for the brains desire for it.

SPARK overlaps with plenty of other books published in the last few years. One in particular I read recently was Running is My Therapy - Relieve Stress and Anxiety, Fight Depression, Ditch Bad Habits, and Live Happier By Scott Douglas and Alison Mariella Desir. It’s the same message with a different title. Again, my conspiracy that book sales are just another business proposition. Unique content in a new book is very rare. It’s the same content regurgitated through another persons “voice”. Especially the self-help, financial independence, investing book aisle.

Another takeaway from this book was how learning after exercise can be extremely effective. I specifically live by this and many morning runners would believe this as well. If you go for a 5-10 mile run at 6am and then go to work I can almost guarantee you will have a better day. It’s such an extremely satisfying feeling to run before work in the morning. It settles the mind, clears your thoughts, and allows you to think systematically through creative technical solutions.

I would like to somehow bring this idea of using exercise to prime the brain for learning to my kids. Maybe it’s by biking to school versus driving the kids to school? If your kids can bike 1-3 miles to school and get their heart-rate elevated for 10minutes before class it could help calm and focus their attention before the days learning begins. Weekends could have mandatory mountain bike practice? Maybe weekdays have soccer practice?

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