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Title: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
Author(s): John J. Ratey, MD with Eric Hagerman
Number of Referenced Stories: 2

Publication Year: 2008
ISBN: 9780316113502
Dewey Decimal Class: 600
Dewey Decimal Division: 612
Author Website:

    Phil Lawler (deceased 2010) and PE teacher, Neil Duncan

Just in Time Stories:
    #801 - PE4Life

B's Buzz

John Ratey shares his insight.

"Fitness-not-sportsis a redefinition designed to guide behaviors over a lifetime.  Rigorous PE was an evolving concept and definition for changing instructional and student learning behaviors first applied in the Naperville, Illinois School District.

It now travels elsewhere under various nom plumes including PE4life.  It has proven effective wherever it has been adopted.  Getting it adopted, nevertheless, has not always been easy.  Bottom-line, the benefits of formal exercise training are far reaching.    

I see an emphasis on rigorous exercise as an under-recognized way to optimize brain function and to help with emotional regulation.  The Taiwanese tie this together, for instance, by connecting exercise with EQ (Emotional Health) and IQ."

In Dr. Ratey's featured story, P.E. teacher, Phil Lawler in a way similar to that of Jay Winsten (in another research story from a change-centered book, Switch.) believed there was a better way.  For Winsten it was the introduction of a behavioral definition, designated driver, which reduced U.S. alcohol-related highway traffic.  For Lawler it was the concept of an exercise-reliant lifestyle designed to enhance formal learning and prolong a healthier life.  Their visions came into being at about the same time.  "Rigorous exercise," Dr. Ratey reminds, "is also a driver for large-scale change in well-being; both individually and for society-at-large." 

This concept goes beyond sweaty early morning runs and high school weight lifting rooms.  It lies not with a single behavioral definition, but rather a series of interconnected definitions in the U.S. including local customs, school governance and, at times, the fear of legal liability. 

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