Spark:The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Thispaper analyses the book TheRevolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,by John Ratey with Eric Hagerman as a contributor. The scope of theexamination covers my reasons for selecting the book and key topicsthat captured my attention. The paper will also evaluate the views ofother scholars on the subject of exercise and the brain. Lastly, therelevance of the book to my professional practice and personalactions will be stated.

Myreasons for selecting the book

IchoseRatey’sbook because it mirrors a significant theme in contemporary society.Exercise is an activity that is prominent among many people today. Furthermore, the increase in terminal illnesses and the pressure tomaintain a healthy lifestyle has influenced many individuals toconsider exercise as pivotal. Studies have also highlighted thevarious benefits of body workouts to human health. Ratey’s bookdiscusses a substantial benefit of exercise which occurs in the humanbrain. This aspect was interesting to me.

Anotherreason why I selected the book resonates from its proposal of thesimplest remedy for revolutionizing the performance of children inschool. Ratey puts into context the link between exercise and brainoperation. In most cases, scholars have suggested complex solutionsthat can be used to improve the functioning of the brain and theperformance of learners. However, Ratey’s suggestion is verysimple he gives the impression that exercise in an efficient remedyto achieve excellent brain functioning.

Topicsof Integration

Onetopic of interest highlighted in the first and second chapter of thebook is the need to implement vigorous exercises as an approach tonot only build the body but also advance brain developmentessentially among school children. Ratey, therefore, proposes thatthere is a need for schools to implement physical education programsthat put emphasis on vigorous exercise. The narrative that a sharpmind is necessary for the efficient functioning of the brain is aptlydescribed. Ratey gives examples of vital nutrients required for thedevelopment of a sharp and attentive brain. The muscles produce thenutrients which are then transported to the blood streams and lastlyto the brain. According to Ratey only vigorous exercise can instigatethe production of essential nutrients. The author presents variouscase studies that support the notion that exercise is an integralfactor for improving brain operation among school children. Anexample is the inaugurated new physical exercise program initiated inpublic schools in Illinois and Naperville in the year 1990. The newinitiative involved student’s active participation in PhysicalEducation (PE) each day. An interesting aspect of the program wasthat all students were supposed to run for one mile, at least once aweek. The findings demonstrated that there was a remarkable positiveimpact on the learning abilities of the students and other aspects oftheir physical health. The ideas proposed by Ratey changed myviewpoint about the functioning of the brain. I often thought thatthe working of the brain was influenced majorly by genetic componentsor the use of stimulants. Nevertheless, the views proposed by thebook out rightly show that exercise is indeed a great contributor tothe operation of the brain. A significant case highlighted is the2004 incident where freshmen students in Naperville admitted withpoor reading capabilities. The students were subjected to intensePhysical Education (PE) lessons prior to undertaking the readingclasses. The students moved from less than average learners togetting high scores in science, reading, and mathematics.

Anotherkey topic that emerges from the book is that exercise is a remedy orsolution to problems that arise in different fields. In the medicalfield and health sciences, isometrics acts as a solution for dealingwith medical conditions such as anxiety, attention deficit disorders,stress, and depression. Ratey presents scenarios in which patientswere actively involved in body workouts as part of their everydayroutine. The result was an improvement in health, due to a decline inthe effects of the illness. The book is also useful to educators withthe proposal that schools should put emphasis on physical education. In my opinion, the idea that exercise is beneficial in correctingdeviations in various areas has impacted my perception of howexercise can be used to resolve medical conditions. I was skepticalabout the role of exercise in addressing problems such as depression,anxiety, and stress as proposed by Ratey. I often thought thatcounseling is the most operational approach. Nevertheless, I wouldrecommend isometrics to my patient.


Theviews proposed by Ratey are supported by various authors such asBoecker et al. (2012). According to the authors, the mechanismsunderlying the functioning of the brain can positively be influencedby exercise. Boecker et al. (2012) examine the case of an experimentthat involved young and aged mice exposed to wheel running. Thefindings of the research disclosed that intense physical activityresulted in an increase in the production of new neurons transmittedto the hippocampus. The main observation was an improvement in memoryand learning.

Adams (2011) also supports the thought propagated by Ratey thatexercising the brain increases nutrients that are useful in fightingillness and refining cognitive capability. He, however, contendswith the opinion that vigorous exercise is necessary. The authorargues that simple workout activities for twenty minutes a day orthirty minutes an hour are the best approaches to preserving mentalacuity and increasing blood circulation.

Howthe Book Will Change My Professional Practice

Ratey’s book has increased my level of consciousness about thesignificance of exercise. In my Professional practice, I will applythe views proposed by the book. Although, other remedies orapproaches to treatment are prioritized when dealing with conditionssuch as stress, depression, ADHD and anxiety, I intended to recommendexercise to my patients as a leading treatment approach.


The above discussion has presented a review of the bookTheRevolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. A major theme emphasized by the volume is the idea that exercise hasthe potential to boost brain activity to the extent of improvinglearning capabilities. In addition, the book identified the fact thatphysical activity is a useful remedy for the treatment of diseases.I, therefore, state that the book is resourceful to medicalprofessionals.


Adams,M. (2011). 100Ways to Boost Your Brain Power: Simple Tips and Tricks to SharpenYour Mind.Adams Media

Boecker,H, Scheef, L and Struder, H. (2012). FunctionalNeuroimaging in Exercise and Sport Sciences. SpringerScience &amp Business Media.

Ratey,J M.D. with Eric Hagerman. (2008). Spark:The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.Little Brown.