Spark by John Ratey [Book Review] and How Exercise Makes You Smarter

Spark by John Ratey

Book Review for Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

Spark by John Ratey will motivate you to get moving. Ratey goes in-depth with research and the science behind how exercise makes you smarter. 


You might be wondering why I’m reviewing a book about exercise for a project management and leadership blog.

After all, these books are usually found on fitness blogs.

However, the findings in this book apply to improving career and job performance.

Even better, there are tons of benefits to exercise – many you already know, but many will surprise you.

As it turns out, exercise makes you smarter.


Read on for a list of just a few things I learned from Spark by John Ratey.


Here are a few of the surprising things I learned in Spark by John Ratey:

  1. There’s a direct link between exercise and cognitive functioning.
  2. Exercise helps us learn.
  3. Being in good shape can improve your learning ability.
  4. Exercise helps your body repair and better handle stress. Chronic stress can cause damage to our bodies. Exercise helps combat this harm.
  5. Studies show that we become more social when we add physical activity to our lives. Exercise boosts confidence and provides opportunities to meet people.
  6. Exercise protects our cells from damage and disease.
  7. In addition to exercise, eating vegetables and calorie restriction provide health benefits.
  8. Anecdotal evidence shows that exercise reduces anxiety.
  9. Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good. As a result, movement can lift your mood and make you feel better about life in general. Therefore, exercise is a great way to combat depression.
  10. Aerobics provide the positive benefits of antidepressants without the adverse side effects.
  11. Exercise increases self-regulation and self-control. A study published in the “British Journal of Health and Psychology” reported that people who exercised reduced their smoking, ate healthier food and reduced impulse spending, among other positive behaviors.
  12. Exercise helps with addictive behaviors.
  13. Workouts can reverse cell deterioration that occurs as we age.
  14. Exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells.
  15. Activities that are awkward or include difficult motor skills help the brain build neural networks and plasticity. By adding Tango lessons to your running workout you help brain development.  You’ll then be able to apply that brain power to learning other things, too, such as math.

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And there’s much more information on the benefits of exercise all throughout this book.


What I loved about Spark by John Ratey

I love the research-based evidence presented throughout the book.

Ratey explains not only that exercise is beneficial.

He explains how it’s beneficial.

For this reason, it’s extra motivating. This is a book I’ll come back to when I need that additional push to get me moving.

Or when I’m feeling sluggish and need some extra motivation.

There’s no doubt that I feel better when I exercise.

And I want to perform at my best for both my team and my clients.

I’ve written about what I do to help me achieve peak performance.

Exercise is definitely on that list.

John Ratey explains how and why exercise is beneficial and I’m far more motivated to do it.


Running my first half marathon, the St. Jude Half Marathon, in December 2017


Why I recommend Spark by John Ratey

Everyone knows that exercise is good for you.

And we want the benefits that exercise brings.

But in Spark, John Ratey shares far more benefits of exercise than I knew about.

– You’ll learn more than you expected.

– You’ll be motivated to move.

It’s like having a coach right there telling you all the great reasons to get off your butt and get moving.

This book isn’t about six-pack abs, but about getting smarter, healthier, and happier through exercise.

Follow this link to read other great reviews and purchase this book on Amazon:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain


Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase via the provided links. I only recommend items that I use and love. See my Disclosure statement here.

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