« Welcome to the Exercise Revolution | Main | Miracle-Gro for brains »


Dear Dr. Ratey,
Your book Spark is a fanastic study and articulation of the effects of exercise on the brain. It validates the anecdotal evidence my partners and I have found from teaching our Empowerment Fitness programs to adults and teens in the Boston metropolitan area. Empowerment Fitness combines rhythmic physical movement such as walking, jogging or spinning on a stationary bike, with a life coaching program grounded in positive psychology. In other words, while individuals are moving their bodies, we teach them how to reduce stress, build resiliency and reach specific life goals. Our program has been particulary powerful with teens. To learn more about Empowerment Fitness, go to www.empowermentfitness.com or www.efteens.com. Thank you for your incredible research!
Sharon O'Connor, Ed.D.
Needham, Massachusetts

Not only have I enjoyed reading - and re-reading - SPARK, I've had the pleasure of teaching young learners the how and why of your brain research. Take a look at the ExerLearning blog for the full story.

John –

Your precise use of scientific data is confirming my anecdotal experience. Anecdotally:

-- early a.m. jogging before each of the three days of the CPA exam was crucial to my alertness and stamina in answering precise questions during 8 hour days of the exam.

-- though the orthopaedic at the VA (surgeon for the Cubs) initially recommended full shoulder surgery for my skiing mishap, he and his team have signed up to my vigorous rehab program made possible by my good physical condition.(see my letter in the University of Chicago Magazine alluding to the initial date set for the complete shoulder replacement surgery which, thankfully, never took place. It is under "Unique Content"):

-- this very morning I was told by a doctor at the VA that my physical conditioning was jump-starting a fast recovery from the flu. I am days ahead of less fit vets of all ages reporting for treatment at the Jesse Brown VA Center in Chicago.

-- I will spare you pages of other anecdotes reinforcing your arguments. Know that this affirmation is available; it is voluminous.

Your power point presentation has persuaded me to purchase “Spark”. Specifically, the Obesity/IQ chart (p.12) and Dist. 203 data (pps.47, 51) are convincing to all but those who just do not want to recognize the truth. They continue to look for the magic pill. Your Zoloft slides clearly illustrate the benefit of exercise.

Professional colleagues during my business career in accounting/finance (incl. Merton Miller, Nobel Prize winner & godhead of derivatives) have urged me to reveal my own program that has brought fitness with no gyms & equipment and little time & space. See references to this matter in a recent profile in the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business magazine: www.chicagogsb.edu/email/xp/gupdate/mar06/#gleason

The name of the book is “Pull Your Own Weight” -- the conditioning manual that respects your time & space. It is a work-in-progress nearing completion to the tune of 37 chapters. I label the exercise program “Quantum Fitness” in respect to Quantum Mechanics resolution to the physics of time & space.

John M. Gleason, Jr. jgleaso0@chicagogsb.edu

chronic deja vu from Costa Rica Central America esteban_tortos@yahoo.com

from Costa Rica Central America
personally i suffer from a condition i found later it is more or less common, i have chronic deja vu, i thought i was crazy until i found the term in the internet at a university in Leeds England. As i did not get any response i kept on searching for information that could help me, that is how i found the book by doctor Ratey" a user´s guide to the brain" and it was a relief i still look for help though and I will appreciate , you can not imagine how much, any help you can provide me. As one way to control it i started working out every day, i swim three times a week, lift weights and jog, and it makes me feel better and happier , i keep a journal and tracked down the situation(deja vu ) since it started 1 year ago, if it can be helpful to you somehow please let me know.
thank you for your time and please write back.
Esteban Tortós

Dr Ratey,
Just finished "Spark". Excellent. Quitting smoking 32 yrs ago, I replaced the negative addiction with the positive addiction (a la Glasser)of running. I have run over 65,000 miles since I quit smoking. At age 64, I recently qualfied for the Boston Marathon.(Sub 4hr marathon). I have run 17 marathons and 10 ultramarathons and have coached hundreds of "neighborhood class" runners as well as the All- Army Marathon Team in the early 80's. I present this for some ego satifaction and some credentials prior to commenting on your use of the old--and I mean old, standard 220 minus your age to determine max heart rate.
My observations and reading a wealth of info on heart rate training over the last 20+ yrs--as well as incorporating heart rate monitoring in my training and coaching others has revealed the formula works for about 1/3 of the population. That leaves 2/3 of folks with quite erroneous data for training zones.

I am 64. Using the formula (220-64=156) 156 would be my max. Actually, my current max is 198. Back in my 40's it was a solid 207 when running. Other activities:swimming, biking have lower max rates due to the body being supported some by water or the bike.

A difference of 42 bpm for me makes the formula useless, as it does for about the majority of folks.

Suggestion, in your talks expand on the max hr formula withs its' deviations, and when you get to a second printing if you could explain that the formula has some gross deviation it would make me happy. As you are probably aware the best way to get one's max hr is to warm up and with a MD's ok, run up a steep hill several times and pushing till you see white spots. That number will be pretty close to one's max.

As a lifestyle coach, I would be glad to join you in getting more bodies in motion. I still smile when I see that Dr Phil wrote a book on fitness.

Again, great book.
Nick Nichols

Hello John,

I heard your interview with Dennis Prager and I would like to commend you for your wonderful approach to the promotion of health and exercise as a way of life! I join you in your efforts to encourage a healthier society.
I am the owner and CEO of Chair Dancing® International, Inc. While I was working with weight-loss clients at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, I came up with the idea for Chair Dancing®. Based on the concept that seated exercise provides convenience and comfort that other programs don't, I helped my clients to achieve the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.
What are people saying about Chair Dancing®?
JoAnn Smoker, 60, a loyal Chair Dancer for many years, finally has her diabetes under control. She attributes her success to her use of Chair Dancing® and relates the following proof of her amazing transformation:
-Lost 40 pounds
-Cholesterol from 234 to 160
-Blood Sugar from 7.0 to 5.2
-Triglycerides from 259 to 58
I would love to send you some samples of my exercise DVDs. Please send me your mailing address via e-mail. Look forward to hearing from you.

Jodi Stolove


I've been reading Spark and find it fascinating, amazing, and as a pretty committed exerciser, heartening.

I think this information is so, so important, and while I want people to read your book, how about writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times? This medicine, as you call it, is free, and seems as essential to a healthy life as water. You could reach a lot of people with a piece in the Times. Thanks.

John, I heard your interview on Minnesota Public Radio and am more encouraged than I've been for some time. I've thought that children have less and less time for physical activity, or "recess" as in my day, and wondered how teachers expected them to sit for hours in a classroom and not move. I'm getting busy, with your book and information from the Naperville schools, to start educating our school board members and administration of the importance of exercise. If they can see data proving the value for student achievement, and ultimately school achievement, it may be easier to see some action on all sides. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! K.

Hello John,

I'm writing a magazine article on ways to exercise and challenge the brain, and I'm fascinated by your angle in Spark. If you have a moment to answer a few questions for my research, I'd love to converse with you over phone or email if that's convenient for you. Thanks for your time,


The comments to this entry are closed.