“Spark”, How Raising Your Heart Rate Changes Your Brain

Which of these responses to EXERCISE do you use?

  • I love to exercise.
  • I hate to exercise but I do it.
  • I should exercise but I don’t.
  • Exercise?????

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D., and Eric Hagerman,  explains the strong evidence that aerobic exercise doesn’t just change our body IT CHANGES OUR BRAINS.

Music makes it fun!

This particular journey through the mind-body connection is fascinating, presenting research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from decreasing or avoiding depression, Alzheimer’s, addiction, Attention Deficit Disorder, menopause, even aggression.  Exercise changes neurotransmitters so you pay attention more easily, learn and keep yourself calm.  Exercise at the very least:

  • Helps you beat stress,
  • Raises your mood
  • Reduces memory loss
  • Helps you become smarter 

The book details the kinds of exercise  best for different conditions (such as cancer, depression, even diabetes).  There is fascinating information I had not read about like:  BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor) and why you want more of and how to get it. New focus on variable heart rate .

SPARK explores comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It may change the way you think about your exercise routine —or lack of . . .

Your feet don’t have to touch ground. Ride!  

Learn from the students in Naperville:

“The gym teachers at Naperville conducted an educational experiment called Zero Hour P.E. where they scheduled time to work out before class using treadmills and other exercise equipment where you are only competing against yourself to improve. This program not only turned their 19,000 students into the fittest in the nation but also, in some categories, the smartest in the world.”

“Academically, Naperville High School is currently in the top 10 in the state–despite the fact that they spend less money per pupil than other high schools in their district.”  Alan Freishtat

Click HERE for more about the Naperville experiment in exercise:


The Mystery of Chronic Pain & Hope

It’s a flip of the coin whether you will be affected by chronic pain (if it hasn’t already affected you).   This video is worth 8 minutes of your time to listen –
one of the clearest, most concise (and short) descriptions of how the brain-body registers pain AND the HOPE of remedy.
The Mystery of Chronic Pain

Elliot Krane, M.D., Pediatric anesthesiologist, Director of Pain Management Services at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford

“We think of pain as a symptom, but there are cases where the nervous system develops feedback loops and pain becomes a terrifying disease in itself. Starting with the story of a girl whose sprained wrist turned into a nightmare, Elliot Krane talks about the complex mystery of chronic pain, and reviews the facts we’re just learning about how it works and how to treat it.” TED

Current Statistics on Chronic Pain

An estimated 50 million Americans:
An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from persistent pain each year, according to the American Pain Foundation. Add two loved ones for every patient and the total number of people affected is at least 150 million Americans–50% of the population.
1 in 3 Americans:
1 in 3 Americans lose more than 20 hours of sleep each month due to pain, according to the American Alliance of Cancer Pain Initiatives (AACPI).
According to the National Headache Foundation, headaches are the most common type of pain. It is estimated that industry loses $50 billion per year due to absenteeism and medical expenses caused by headaches.
Pain is the second leading cause of medically related work absenteeism, resulting in more than 50 million lost workdays each year, according to the American Pain Society.
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Currently more than 33 million Americans have arthritis. Nearly 90% of all persons over age 40 show beginning signs of arthritis or rheumatism (Lawrence, R.C., Hochberg, MC, Kelsy J.L., Journal of Rheumatology 16, 427-441)
Women are less likely to receive treatment for pain than men
According to recent pain research by Hoffman and Tarzian ( “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women In The Treatment of Pain” Law/ Med Ethics, 2001: 29:13-27), women are less likely to receive treatment for pain than men.
Some 52 million informal and family caregivers provide care to people aged 20+ who are ill or disabled, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Many caregivers consider pain to be an indication of the patient’s status.
Costs & Effects of Pain:
Pain costs an estimated $100 billion each year. Every day, 60% of men and women experience some pain (AACPI).
Of the community dwelling elderly, up to 50% can be expected to suffer from pain. Among institutionalized elderly 71% to 83% report at least one pain problem (L. Galieze, “Chronic Pain in Elderly People” Pain 1997 Mar., 70 (1): 3-14)
Social life:
Chronic pain not only causes physical discomfort, but also interferes with social relationships, family life and self-esteem. There is a high correlation between chronic pain and depression.