Wholesome habits for the mind- Exercise


I came across the book Spark -the Revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain in 2015 and it opened my eyes to looking at exercise in a whole new way. Finding this book was a great inspiration. As I read the book a newly found admiration for physical activity arose in me- something I had looked at with enough attention  all my life. I always knew that mind affects the body. What I learnt from this was that body affects the mind as well. And significantly. For many decades now, mental health (or mental ill-health) is being viewed as something separate from us and antidepressants have become the go to option for 'cure'. Lately however the side effects of such drugs are becoming evident and more and more people dealing with stress have to face the dilemma of whether or not to go for such line of treatments given their fast-paced lives and lack of awareness of other possibilities.

With our society moving towards an age of individualism and (a faulty understanding of) independence, it is true that we are often left with no choice. Ignorance, lack of time and the ease of popping a pill tip the scales in this way as well. Coming from a practicing psychiatrist -John J. Ratey who is also a Professor at Harvard Medical School this book represents a turning point for exploring wholesome methods like exercise for achieving mental health and wellness.

What stands out in this book is countless examples of research on how patients who were administered doses of exercise (instead of or in addition to other modalities) have been able to either come out or effectively manage stress or depression as well as through any prescribed drug treatment. Not only that -also captivating are the stories of Naperville High School and California Department of Education that have proven without doubt over years that school kids who participate in regular (daily) physical activity do consistently better than others. In fact academic performance in the form of improved memory, concentration and classroom behavior has improved significantly where schools have employed a daily Physical Education program. The book is definitely a recommended read.


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