Book Club

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain


John L. Ratey, M.D.

Front Cover

Chapter One:

Welcome to the Revolution: A Case Study on Exercise and the Brain

Participate in the book club discussion of this chapter by doing the following:

1. Before reading the chapter, take a moment to write in your High Performance Journal.

 – Based on the title of this chapter, what do you imagine you might learn?

 – What thoughts or ideas come to mind?

 – What kind of effect do you anticipate it will have on you to read this chapter?

2. Read the chapter.

3. Write in your journal, reflecting on what you read.

 – What 3-5 things stood out to you?

 – What did you learn that was meaningful or important to you?

 – Do you want to do anything different in your own life as a result?

4. Participate in the discussion below, sharing your thoughts or ideas about the chapter.

– Share anything you want from what you wrote in your journal.

 – What related to or supported anything else within the dimension this book belongs to.

– What related to or supported anything in the dimension of achievement and the pursuit of your goals?

– Contribute to the discussion in a helpful, positive way.

3 replies
  1. Cammie Nebeker
    Cammie Nebeker says:

    Again, reading the 1st Chapter, I am struck by how “wise” the education system that I grew up in was. Physical Education everyday. How sad to me, as I have watched the education system “dumbed” down in every way including PE! To dress down and take tests but not actively participate has not only hurt America’s children phsyically, but as this chapter shows-academically, (mental development) as well.

    I am so happy to see a new positive revolution that is based in measurable outcome that cannot be denied!! It does make sense if you look at the patterns of live. We grow and develop through “resistance of some sort” that stretches our mental, physical, spiritual capacities. It stimulates us.

    I also love the fact that recognition in the Naperville “experiment” that full-out effort of someone does not necessarily meet the standard of recognized excellent achievement. In the instance of the “non-athletic” girl who when running the mile was at or near her maximum heart rate. Each of us are different and how fantastic to develop a lifetime fitness plan for these kids and teach them how to do that!!

  2. Jonna States
    Jonna States says:

    I love how Lawler and Zientarski have transformed the PE program in their school and have changed the lives of hundreds of children’s lives for the better. They have set them up for success and not a failure. Bravo to these two men and the others who have followed suit.

  3. Scott Baird
    Scott Baird says:

    The Plato quote immediately after the book’s dedication is terrific! Paraphrasing–God gave human kind tow means to succeed–education and physical activity. These two are consistent with our dimensions of Health and Intellect but they are also connected with our research on thought and action–both imperative. I love the way Ratey, in the introduction, ties this into the very outward signs of obesity and the unseen but real shrinking of our brains–both related to our current life style around exercise and nutrition.

    Surprising given the history of believing that the number of our brain cells are finite and we don’t grow new ones, is our new understanding that our brains respond like our muscles–they sprout new growth with exercise.

    I appreciate the research based content and writing–it is the research that proves exercise is more effective at treating depression that Zoloft!

    Naperville, Ill. sixth in the world in math and first in science! There is the “Spark” that stimulated the book.

    One of the great secrets of keys for our goal-oriented cardio workout is the 80-90 percent of maximum heart rate. But the results are astonishing–17% improvement in reading and comprehension as compared to a 10.7% increase turned in by the control group–nearly a 70% better performance!–Better academic performance than their peers of equal ability on less than 40% of the budget per pupil!

    If it is true that less than 3% of us older than age 24 stay fit through team sports–it puts the responsibility right where it belongs–squarely on each person’s shoulders.
    I love the Zientarski quote, “In our department, we create the brains cells, It’s up to the other teachers to fill them.”

    Great evidence for our high performing lives. In 2001 fit kids scored twice as well on academic tests as the unfit peers. All because physical activity has a positive influence on memory, concentration and classroom behavior.

    It appears that Body Mass Index (BMI) and aerobic fitness are the two key fitness indicators. In current research, I recommend the Smart Body Mass Index (SBMI) as the best measure of body mass.

    I love that the proof is not isolated to an upper-crust neighborhood. Way to go Titusville!

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