The book on exercise you must read

I came across this book titled “Spark: How exercise will improve the performance of your brain” which seemed interesting, so I picked it up on Kindle app and started reading it. It’s a well known fact that exercise is good for the body – it builds up strength in the bones, muscles and keeps the body in condition so that one can function properly.

But exercise boosting brain performance? That sounded very interesting to me, because while I had experienced the clarity of thought, and in general calm feeling after doing exercise, I never knew the exact science behind that.

The author, Dr John, describes in detail how exercise works for the brain – how brain is similar to other muscles in the body, wherein exercise can actually promote brain growth and improve intelligence and learning ability. This is backed by research studies conducted on rodents by various scientists over the years.

Over bodies have evolved over the millions of years to move around and hunt food, it is only animals that move around need a brain. The book cites an example of an underwater animal – Sea Squirt, which has a brain when it is born, but once it attaches itself to a rock or something else, it eats it’s own brain and lives like a plant for rest of it’s lifetime. It eats away it’s own brain because it doesn’t have to move!

An often heard saying about habit formation – one needs to consistently do something for 28 days, then it becomes a habit. The scientific reason behind this is – new neuron cells that are born (neurogenesis) in the brain must be recruited to some learning activity within 28 days, or else they die. Once they are recruited for activity they become part of the brain’s circuity.

The book also in quite detail, describes about stress – and how mild stress is actually good. But high levels of stress actually kill brain cells. One interesting fact that has been mentioned in the book is about how eating fruits and vegetables improves immunity. Over the years, plants evolved so that they cannot be eaten away by animals. So they started producing toxins in the fruits. By eating fruits and vegetables we are subjecting our body to mild stress, so due to body’s defence mechanism, our immunity strengthens, which then helps fight against infections and diseases.

Exercising is extremely good for people who’re stressed out due to various reasons – because stress is essentially a fight or flight response of the body. The wild parallel for this – our body was basically designed to fight wild animals or run away from them, should they be hungry and overpower the man when out for hunting for food. Aerobic exercise does just that. If one doesn’t exercise when stressed out – it causes fat deposits and due to higher levels of cortisol starts killing brain cells.

There are even more interesting studies in the book on how exercise can help against Depression, ADHD, etc. I will highly recommend reading this book for everyone – because it teaches the importance of exercise, and if you’re not exercising, then gives strong motivation to exercise! After all, why one wouldn’t like being more faster and have more focus at things they usually do?

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