Move the Body, Heal the Mind Book Review

Thanks to my bookish friend and fellow bookstagrammer and booktuber Mika, I’ve started rollerblading this year. I can now skate backwards, do braided bubbles, and I’m working on spins. Rollerblading has brought me joy and confidence and energy.

Post-college, I’ve become pretty sedentary, with working full-time jobs and multiple part-time jobs. Plus, I had some of my worst mental illness years in my late twenties. (Check out my Mental Health Book Tag if you haven’t!) I haven’t prioritized moving my body in a long time.

I’m so thankful that Mariner Books sent me an advanced reviewer’s copy of Move the Body, Heal the Mind. Because this book has inspired me to move my body—now and for the rest of my life.

Check out my review and favorite quotes of the book below!

Book Details

Publisher: Mariner Books
Release Date: March 8, 2022
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help, Wellness, Exercise and Fitness, Mental Health

Synopsis

A noted neuroscientist reveals groundbreaking research on how fitness and exercise can combat mental health conditions such as anxiety, dementia, ADHD, and depression, and offers a plan for improving focus, creativity, and sleep.

Jennifer Heisz shares paradigm-shifting research on how exercise affects the brain, finding that intervals of intense workouts, or even leisurely walks, help stop depression and dementia, lessen anxiety and ADHD, and encourage better sleep, creativity, and resilience. Physical inactivity is the greatest risk factor contributing to dementia and anxiety—it’s as much a factor as genetics. In addition, exercise’s anti-inflammatory properties make it the most effective treatment strategy for those who are depressed and don’t respond to anti-depressants. The book focuses on overcoming inertia; using exercise to help fight addictions; how we can improve our memory with fitness even as we age; and, importantly, how exercise can help us sleep better, improve focus, and be more creative. Included are easy to use plans for unique aerobic and resistance workouts designed to strengthen the brain.

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Review

★★★★

The body positivity movement is so important, yet it has impacted how I view and feel about moving my body. For better and worse.

Similar to the sex positivity movement, if we look critically, we find areas that the movement ignores or even hinders. (That’s why I’m more aligned with the sex responsibility movement, which doesn’t shame ‘vanilla’ preferences and calls for accountability.) All that to say, I’ve had a hard time finding my why to exercise. I don’t want people to think I’m obsessed with or care about changing how I look. I don’t want to hear, “You’re beautiful just the way you are!” Cause I know, thanks.

Move the Body, Heal the Mind came into my life at the perfect time because now I have multiple whys for exercising: to improve my mental health, immune response, sleep, creativity, and more.

I have anxiety, depression, and OCD, so I was nervous about how this book would discuss mental illness, especially medication vs. exercise. Because my meds honestly saved my life. But I learned that, for many people who don’t respond to medication, low levels of serotonin isn’t the root cause for mental illnesses. Instead, inflammation in the brain, due to extended stress or sickness, is the root cause. But get this—mental health professionals don’t test for inflammation but instead treat all patients as if they have low serotonin. Wow, right? Turns out, no matter the cause, exercise helps both responders and non-responders.

Also, for those of you like me who have found it hard to stick to your health plan in the past no matter how much you plan, this book shows how it’s not your fault but your brain’s focus. You should definitely read more, but essentially, all your goals and planning is needed— until you start exercising. Then you need to focus on the experience.

If you’re looking for your why or find psychology fascinating, pick up this book!

Favorite Quotes

Bigger is not always better when it comes to an immune response. Too much inflammation’s bad for the body, and the consequences range from trivial to tragic.

When the brain’s inflamed, it metabolizes tryptophan, creating a toxic by-product that damages the hippocampus. This makes it harder to turn off the stress response, and this, creates even more stressed-out called and inflammation.

Exercising muscles release special Ed cytokines called myokines . . . With consistent training, . . . the body becomes less inflamed.

Exercise is medicine that we all need. And I do mean all of us. Not just drug-resistant non-responders, but responders too.

Exercising more during the day helps us pay back our sleep debt faster so that we can wake up feeling more refreshed and recharged.

By training your body to move more creatively, you train your mind to think more creatively.

You can train to enhance both focus and creativity, but your training program must include unpredictability, cross-training, and play.

About the Author

Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz is an expert in brain health. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University (ranked Top 25 in the world) and directs the NeuroFit Lab, which has attracted nearly $1 million to support her research program on the effects of exercise for brain health. Dr. Heisz received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience (McMaster) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Brain Health and Aging at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital (Toronto). Dr. Heisz’s research examines the effects of physical activity on brain function to promote mental health and cognition in young adults, older adults and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Many honors and awards recognize Dr. Heisz for her outstanding contributions to research including the Early Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario and the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award.

What are your favorite ways to move your body? Rollerblading like me? Swimming? Yoga? Let me know in the comments!

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