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John J. Ratey, MD.
John J. Ratey, MD.

Putting More 'Spark' In Your Life

"If you're not busy living, your body will be busy dying," warns Dr. John Ratey when addressing the need for continuous physical exercise to slow-down the aging process and its effects on the brain.

I am nearing the end of Dr. John Ratey’s book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, which I highly recommend, especially after learning about a new study done by West Virginia University School of Medicine on the dismal state of health of Baby Boomers, of which I am one.

I am reading ‘Spark’ as I do my daily two mile walk on my treadmill, which sat largely idle for way too many years. It turns out that climbing back on it is one of the smartest - literally, it turns out - things I’ve done in a while. Ratey’s thesis, for which he musters a legion of supporting studies, is that exercise is not only good for the body, it’s critical to the brain, which he explains in intricate physiological and biochemical terms that, in all honestly, can be a little overwhelming for a layman like me. But one thing I read today really got me thinking. Referring to the link between exercise and the production of dopamine neurons, which guard against Parkinson’s disease, he writes: “This really underscores the idea that if you’re not busy living, your body will be busy dying.”

Now connect that to the West Virginia study that Baby Boomers are less healthy than their parent’s generation and that our sedentary lifestyle, where 52% of us never exercise, is largely to blame, and you see why I am glad my daughter inspired her old man to get off his backside and start moving. And as soon as Spring finally arrives here on the Great Plains, I’ll be back on my e-bike, running errands in place of driving my little pickup truck; burning even more calories instead of hydrocarbons.

Posted By: Bill Moore [27-Mar-2013]