A Sound Mind in a Sound Body
The world-famous maxim of the ancient Roman poet Juvenal “mens sana in corpore sano” has never ceased to amaze humanity with the depth of the thought.
Juvenal brilliantly formulated the idea that there is an indisputable connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body.
He used the language of poetry to convey the wisdom about the power of exercise to improve both mind and body.
Juvenal advised to pray for “a sound mind in a sound body”.
In his poem, commonly known as The Vanity of Human Wishes, Juvenal wrote, “Ask for a strong heart that has no fear of death.”
He asserted that “the woes and hard labors of Hercules are better than the banquets and downy cushions of [King] Sardanapalus.”
The poet proved that it is within our powers to create an upward spiral of wellbeing for body and mind. “What I commend to you, you can give it to yourself,” he said.
Life of modern people is full of stress and tension. Along with numerous daily annoyances (work deadlines, financial pressures, traffic jams, etc.) the wear-and-tear of everyday demands can strain and undermine our mental and physical health.
Usually, we handle mood disturbances through psychological counselling, drug therapy, or both.
But increasingly more people today are exercising to promote psychological well-being.
Statistics says that mental health problems, most commonly anxiety disorders and depression, affect one in six Europeans. This means that about 84 million Europeans suffer from mental health issues. Medical literature reviews over the past two decades have repeatedly proven that physical activity enhances the feeling of well-being and decreases the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Indisputable psychological benefits of exercise are reduction of anxiety and depression, enhancement of mood, improvement in self-concept, and therefore improvement in quality of life.
Our well-being is inextricably linked with self-acceptance, positive relationships with those around, our autonomy, personal growth, and a sense of purpose in life.
To beneficial effects of exercise, we may also refer the enhanced feeling of control, the increased confidence in our competency and self-efficacy.
Regular exercise helps people suffering from constraint and tension to relax and feel internally free and unchained. Gradually, peace returns to them, and they begin to feel the joy of life.
Physiologically, exercise is extremely important for the health of our body as well.
Vigorous exercise helps improve the blood flow in our organism. It contributes to the increase of oxygen consumption by the organs. Oxygen delivery to tissues is also improved. Exercise helps reduce muscle tension and prevent negative structural changes in our organism.
So, it is no surprise that many exercisers say they feel better mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually after physical activity.
For some time, the legendary “runner’s high” has been a hot topic and a great testament to the benefits of exercise. The phenomenon of ‘runner’s high’ is a euphoric sensation, usually unexpected, of heightened well-being, an enhanced appreciation of nature, and the transcendence of time and space.
The runners feel a sense of freedom. Pain and discomfort disappear or relieve. They feel a pleasant lightness in the bodies. Their hearts are filled with joy.
Exercise can be a good addition to traditional psychotherapy. Physicians and mental health professionals regularly recommend exercise to improve mental and physical health.
The relationship between exercise and our mental and physical health is undeniable.
A human body is a musical instrument of a soul. If we tune our musical instrument regularly, it makes a clear and healing sound.