Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise can Transform our Schools: John J. Ratey, MD at TEDxManhattanBeach

Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise can Transform our Schools: John J. Ratey, MD at TEDxManhattanBeach


Translator: Fatma Abdeldaem
Reviewer: Mirjana Čutura In the spirit of disruption,
I’m going to be a little disruptive. So, I want you all to stand up. Please, everybody, stand up. We’re going to do an exercise
that’s called the Hindu squats, and I guarantee you that no one here – well, maybe I should ask,
Has anyone ever heard of a Hindu squat? Oh, there are a few. Well, I had spoken
in Mumbai, India, to 500 Hindus, and no one had heard of it, so … (Laughter) But it’s good you have. So anyway, put your hands
right out in front of you, and pull them back real tight, and then bend down and touch the floor
or just sit on the seat there. Yeah. Okay. Now, once again. Let’s do it again. Bring it in and then down here. Now, when we bring it in, I want you to go, “Boom!”
and then come down like that. Okay, really loud. (Audience) Boom! And then go down, and touch the floor. Then, “Boom!” go down,
and touch the floor, and then, “Boom!” and go down,
and touch the floor, and then, “Boom!” and go down,
and touch the floor. One more time. “Boom!”
and go down, and touch the floor. Okay. Great, now you can be seated. Now your brains are ready to learn. (Laughter) And what I’m going to talk
to you today about is how exercise is really for our brains, physical exercise turns our brains on, and all the wonderful side effects
that we get help our body be healthy. I first learned
about the power of exercise when I was doing my residency
in psychiatry in Boston at the time of the Boston Marathon’s
explosion with Bill Rodgers, and everybody in Boston was running. We began to see patients
who had to stop running for the first time
in their lives with an injury. First thing that happened
they got depressed. Then I began to see some people
come in and say, “Look, I can no longer pay attention,” “I can no longer plan well,” “I am procrastinating
for the first time in my life.” And these were professors
from MIT and Harvard and industry leaders that had never experienced what we
now call attention deficit disorder, but they were self-medicating
with their daily exercise. And this changed and led me to be interested in exercise
as a treatment for a lot of disorders. We knew, from the time of Hippocrates, that exercise was a good
treatment for depression, and I began to say that a bout of exercise
was like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin. (Laughter) This was solidified some years later when a study came out of
Duke University Medical School, who had been really onto this whole thing
of exercise making our emotions better, improving our depression,
improving anxiety, improving our aggression. But they did this study,
looking at 100 patients who came into Duke and divided them into
three different groups. All these people were sedentary. The first group they started on Zoloft,
increasing doses of Zoloft. The next group they put into an exercise
program four times a week for 30 minutes, and the third group,
they did both medicine and exercise. What they found after four weeks is that all their depressive scores
dropped to the same level, and at the end of the fourth month,
which is how long the experiment went, the changes had remained. And so, this kept me interested in exercise as a treatment, but then I learned about this school
in Naperville, Illinois, in 2003 that led me to write my book “Spark,” which has given me the purpose and mission
of changing our education system, bringing back play and exercise
as a treatment modality or as a stimulant modality
for all of our kids and all of us. Naperville had 19,000 students, and they had evolved,
over a 20-year-period, this wonderful PE program
that was fitness-based, and it was everyday. So, the kids were spending 45 minutes
all of them moving and grooving. What got them national recognition is that three percent
of their children were overweight, and it was at time
when 33% of our kids were overweight. In 7,500 children in the high school,
there was not an obese child to be found. Remarkable, but what really got me
on an airplane to go there was that some years before,
they had taken the TIMSS tests, the international science and math test that every country takes every three years to see how they’re doing
in science and math, and the US is usually
in the low- to mid-teens. And they took it as a country, and they came in number one
in the world in science and number six in math. So, I jumped on an airplane, went there, and began to put together
the science of exercise and its effect not only for mental health issues
but for cognition. We began to take this idea
to other schools, went to an inner-city school
in Charleston, South Carolina, where they had no resources:
one gymnasium, one PE teacher. She set up eight
different stations in the gym, had her fourth- to eighth-graders
come in every morning for 30 minutes, had them play basketball one station
double Dutch jump rope in another, pogo stick, hula hoops. They kept rotating,
so the novelty was there. What they found in the first four months was a 83% drop in discipline problems. Now, it wasn’t just burning off energy. What they were doing
is they were turning their brains on. We worked with another school
up in Northern Ontario – the high school – where they had a special class
for their 25 bad boys. They were very disruptive in a bad way, and one of the things that they had to do
was to suspend these children if they were in fights, breaking furniture
or just disrupting the class too much. So, we went in and helped them
design a program to get all these kids moving
and moving vigorously in the morning. And so, what you can see on the graph here is that the semester before, they had
95 days of suspension of these children. After we started the program,
it dropped to five. Then, as well, the attendance went up. So, these kids came to school –
and these were rough kids – came to school to get their credits, to finish their courses,
to participate in schools. Now, what happens when we exercise
is we turn on our front part of the brain, the last part of the brain to evolve. This is a part of the brain
that’s called our CEO of the brain or prefrontal cortex, where our frontal executive functions are, and when we exercise, when we move,
we turn that part of the brain on. As well, we create
a lot of neurotransmitters that we aim at with our psychiatric drugs, and we create another substance
that we had just learned about called BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which I called Miracle-Gro for the brain because when we fire our nerve cell,
we make this stuff, and this keeps our brain cells
young and perky – one of the reasons why exercise
is one of the best ways to prevent the onset of cognitive decline
and Alzheimer’s disease – but it also readies
our brain to be plastic. And we know we need
to have our brain cells grow to log in any new information. So, exercise is a terrific way
to improve the learner because it turns on the attention system, it turns on the motivation system, it turns on the memory system, as well as it makes all of our little
brain cells ready to grow and sprout, and that’s the only way we learn anything. Here in California, for the past 12 years, you’ve tested a million children
in grades five, seven and nine every year. This is a representative graph
of what it looks like. They evaluate them
on six different fitness standards. And the graph shows as more and more
standards are completed, that is they achieve them, their test scores – in this case it’s math,
but it’s the same in language, arts – their test scores go up, and this is what you see
in every single year. So, the more fit the child is,
the better learner they are. So, my purpose, my mission
is to go around the country and the world to tell people, “Look,
exercise makes your brain better, it optimizes your
brain’s ability to learn, it helps regulate your emotions, it improves your motivation, and it’s something that we have unfortunately
been taking out of our schools.” We need to reinvigorate our schools and get our kids out of
their seats and moving. So, thank you very much. (Applause)

41 thoughts on “Run, Jump, Learn! How Exercise can Transform our Schools: John J. Ratey, MD at TEDxManhattanBeach

  1. @jratey…this is fantastic. Powerful message…yes…exercise is "miracle grow" for the brain!! "More fit a child is the better learner they are"…keep going!!

  2. Thanks John. I heard you speak to Project Adventure's 40th Anniversary celebrations. I was so excited to share your work with others here in Australia, but I needed a short video presentation, and now I have it. Well done. I'll be posting this on my playmeo.com website blog today … thanks, Mark Collard

  3. This information is soooo needed for administrators and officials in Washington. We need a huge overhaul in our school system philosophy that includes learning through lots of play, lots of exercise, and lots of movement!! The time is now to change this. I love your message!! Thank You!! Keep it up. I will be joining you.

  4. Fantastic, I would love to know what he thinks about how important sufficient motor skill developmmnet is for kids to be activ and enjoy participation in a sport they like

  5. Reading his book "Spark" was a defining moment for me.  I've dedicated my life to sharing how exercise can transform all our institutions.  #wellenssrevolution #traindeep  

  6. Very good points. Exercise is certainly great for the mind. I'm a huge believer in this. I'm a marathon runner and I know how great I feel after a long run. 

  7. Check out  the fat losing system that lies hidden in your body. Copy and Paste into Google Skinnimaker System to bring it out.

  8. What kind of exercise?
    Now there is people who does triathlon, that seems too much.
    I don't think this is good for us. We need a balance, no extremes!

  9. It is worth checking Dr. Ratey's last two books:

    "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain"

    "Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization"

  10. Ok but how can exercise like running a marathon do to the brain if I like feel my brain all dull espicially without music on?

  11. Hello I am a physical education teacher from israel. I was very excited to hear this TED talk. If passable can you add hebrew translation to this video? and if you need help to translate I will be more than happy to help

  12. I'd like to see what is found about some people who get worse from too vigorous of physical exercise. There are some. WHY do they get worse from, say, running the mile for PE [repeatedly; they never reach any level of tolerance for it, even doing this 3+ tames weekly]? Do those have difference in their bodies, which fails to adapt to doing more physical exercise? Or, is it the kind of exercise [say, digging ground using a shovel goes well, but running does not?]

  13. I have seen people with super focusing abilities and they are super smart but they don't move a bit. So if they can outperform everyone in terms of focusing, concentrating and working hard, what makes them so different from normal people that they don't need exercise and are able to deliver day in day out? I have personally seen 2 examples who are super performers in their fields and they don't ever exercise in any form!

  14. My story is: When i was a kid about 5-6 years old I had a bit anxiety or claustrophobic, I didn't use to exercise, then from 6 to 12 years old I used to play soccer and run like 2-4 hours 5 days a week. I felt perfect, my mental health was perfect, but then from 12 years old to 14 I just became a couch potato, watching TV all day long and playing videogames at weekends, since 13 years old and a half or so I started to feel anxiety a little bit and progressively. When I turned out 14 I had my first panic attack at the cinema. Then my anxiety became extreme, till 16 years old I started to exercise again, my heart felt like jumping from my chest, but I started to feel better, then when I turned out 18 years old I started to work out at gym, and again my mental health improved a lot. My question Is, some people like me MUST exercise regularly in order to have a good mental health? Or maybe my brain developed to always stay in movement because I used to exercise a lot when I was 6-12 years old? And now my brain does not work properly without exercise?. Maybe this must be my lifestyle. PD. English Is not my mother tongue, so sorry for any mistake.

  15. Keep BACK straight on way down damaging your BACK will not help . Bend at your knees not WAIST horrible start arms out after boom then a controlled SQUAT !!!

  16. Although exercise is not compulsory in our lives, it boosts productivity of our efforts. It's not clever not to utilize the effects of exercise. Going jogging for 30mins in the morning has become one of my habit since I read "Spark". I could be able to concentrate on my work and retain it longer than before. Exercise expedites my brain to generate neurotransmitters which improve my mood. In conclusion, exercise can improve brain functions, improve moods and be useful for anti-aging. I cannot justify the person who don't exercise.

  17. Is their a physical education curriculum that follows these findings? How do we implement what he is saying?

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