The Secret Weapon to a Sharper Mind and Better Business

UPDATED: May 13, 2009
PUBLISHED: May 13, 2009

I’m not just a columnist; I’m also a career and
life coach. I have a radio show, and I am a regular
contributor to CNBC. To make my schedule
even more hectic, I also interview celebrities and
authors for Borders books.

I work a lot. I have very little free time, and I have less and
less time for myself. So, last month, when I heard I had to interview
some doctor about some book—it felt like just another
job, another interview, just something I had to prepare for. But
interviewing Dr. John Ratey for Borders changed my life.
I didn’t see it
coming. I wasn’t
looking for it to
change my life.
It just happened.
Dr. Ratey had just
released his new
book called Spark:
The Revolutionary
New Science of
Exercise and the
. In the book, Dr. Ratey discusses a high school in
Naperville, Ill., where they approach physical education a little
differently. The students don’t simply play dodgeball and soccer.
They wear heart monitors and are graded on the amount of
time they are able to keep their heart rate in the optimal aerobic
range for their body type. After PE, the kids attend classes
like normal.

can come
from the
least likely

As a result of their targeted physical education, the standardized
test scores of the entire student body have jumped.
In math, the school placed sixth in the world. On the science
section, Naperville shocked everyone when they outscored
every other school—in the world.

The statistics blew me away. And Dr. Ratey’s explanation
of how exercise impacts your brain is amazing. Dr. Ratey has
proven that when you exercise, it changes the physical structure
of your brain! It increases your speed of processing, your
memory. In a nutshell, science has proven that exercise primes
your brain for success and makes you smarter.

But that’s not the truly amazing part.
I mean let’s get serious. What about
me? Not to sound crass, but I’m running
a media company, not taking math and
science exams (thank goodness). How can I
use this secret weapon in my everyday life?

Dr. Ratey informed me that if you want to think clearer,
beat stress, put the damper on your depression and boost your
confidence, you only have to do one thing: exercise. He turned
my entire world inside out. I had always thought of exercise as
something I had to or was supposed to do. I did it
simply to keep my butt smaller than it’s genetically
predisposed to be. My source of motivation
was vanity.

Dr. Ratey’s research gave me new motivation
to go for a run. Now, for the first time, I
am able to see exercise for what it truly is—a
way of getting what I want, a way of priming
my brain for success, a secret weapon. Now,
when I’m stuck and can’t figure something out,
I go for a jog, clear my head,
come back and—bam—I
figure it out! Dr. Ratey’s
science at work! If I have
an important meeting and I
want my thinking to be at
its sharpest, I make sure to
exercise beforehand.

I know you’re busy. You’re
stressed-out. There just isn’t
time. I felt exactly the same
way. I was just talking to
a guy about his book, but, suddenly, I was handed a secret
weapon. And consequently, my mind is sharper, I feel motivated
and less stressed, and I have more energy. As a result, I’m
healthier and so is my business.

Mel Robbins is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, CNBC contributor, spokesperson for Microsoft and serial

Read Mel’s weekly SUCCESS blog.

Mel Robbins is a contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author, CNN commentator, creator of the “5 Second Rule” and the busiest female motivational speaker in the world. To find out more, visit her website: To follow her on Twitter: