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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Jan 23, 2024

We know that exercise does have a positive impact on the brain. We know that exercise can optimize brain function and prevent cognitive decline in adults. But what can it do for children and adolescents that learn and think differently?

Today’s guest is Dr. John Ratey, an internationally recognized expert in neuropsychiatry. Dr. Ratey became interested in the science of exercise and the brain early on in his career and has seen first-hand the benefits not only to one’s body, but also behavior, executive functioning skills, and even attention. In today’s episode, Dr. Ratey digs in and explains how exercise and being physically active can change more than your physical health.


Show Notes:

[2:38] - Dr. Ratey became interested in the impact of exercise on the brain as an athlete in medical school and seeing studies comparing exercise and antidepressants.

[4:49] - Dr. Ratey also became interested in ADHD, specifically how it impacts adults.

[6:31] - Consistent exercise can be a type of treatment for ADHD symptoms.

[7:45] - Not only do our bodies need exercise, but our brains do as well.

[8:52] - The beauty of exercise is the accessibility.

[11:12] - When we move, we activate the same nerve cells that we use to think.

[13:12] - Movement and exercise improve attention as well as executive functioning skills.

[15:04] - Dr. Ratey explains how he has visited schools over the years and has seen the results of exercise on student behavior.

[17:29] - Dr. Ratey lists the endorphins and hormones that are increased as a result of exercise.

[20:42] - The more brain cells you activate, the more BDNF you have. It is like brain fertilizer.

[23:06] - Dr. Ratey calls this “Miracle-Gro for your brain.”

[25:23] - Exercise also has an impact on the cerebellum which is discussed at length in the book, ADHD 2.0.

[29:29] - “Sitting is the new smoking.” The more sedentary someone is, the less healthy they are.

[30:44] - The experience of COVID-19 changed our society’s drive to exercise and move their bodies.

[31:39] - To optimize brain function and prevent cognitive decline, exercise is so important.


About Our Guest:

John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, and 12 books published in 20 languages, including the groundbreaking ADD-ADHD “Driven to Distraction” series with Ned Hallowell, MD. Their latest release, ADHD 2.0 (2021) explores new science and strategies. With the publication of his bestseller, "Spark-The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," Dr. Ratey established himself as one of the world's foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection in areas such as ADHD, Autism, Aging, and Cognition.

Recognized by his peers as one of the Best Doctors in America since 1997, Dr. Ratey was recently honored by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society as "Outstanding Psychiatrist of the Year" for advancing the field. Dr. Ratey and his work are frequently profiled in the media, where he’s been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and NPR, as well as in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Washington Post, US News and World Report, Men’s Health, and other national publications. Dr. Ratey maintains an active practice in Cambridge, MA and Los Angeles, CA.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.