Mens sana in corpore sano: the importance of balance between body and mind since ancient times

Sin dall’antichità il physical and mental well-being have gone hand in hand: for theGreeks both served to achieve body perfection.

To promote their own health in the best possible way, people must acquiredirect control of their condition and know how to manage it: if before we considered being well simply when there was no disease, now it is known that various factors that affect the entire existence of a subject influence this status.

It is essential thatharmony reigns in the various aspects of one's being, as well as in social relationships in order to stay healthy: by now everyone knows that there is aclose connection between mind and body, they are two aspects that influence each other.

Onehealthy lifestyle, which includes regular physical activity and abalanced diet, it will allow to prevent various pathologies, not only on a physical level but also on a mental level, just as feeling good about yourself consequently influences our body health. If the body represses negative states of mind, these can present themselves in the form of disorders which, if not caught in time, can become real diseases.

What does the expression “mens sana in corpore sano” mean?

This expression was coined byGiovenale , a Latin poet who in his verses criticized men who asked the gods for wealth and fame, when the only goods that are really worth the prayers addressed to them are a healthy body and mind. The meaning of this sentence has therefore changed over time: today it indicates that the body and the soul must develop together and that both must be exercised to ensure well-being. Juvenal in his works distances himself from physical activity, seen from the perspective of military training according to the Roman conception. However, despite this change of concept, there is no doubt that having a healthy body can prevent some diseases of the mind, as demonstrated by science, and this is why the current meaning of this expression is recognized and accepted.

Physical activity and healthy eating: the perfect combination

Itwo pillars to stay healthy and have beneficial effects on the body and on the mind arephysical activityandnutrition. It is important to practicesports at all ages: in the case ofchildrenit promotes socialization and physical development, but also mental development because being active in so many things leads to becomingbetter at school. Inadultsdoing sport brings the following advantages: greater efficiency in solving problems andmemorizing things thanks to the reinforcement that is given to mental performance, andimproved physical health of the heart and muscles. Some chronic diseases such asAlzheimer's orParkinson's disease can be prevented in the elderly by carrying out a movement or regular exercise, leading toreducing the risks of diabetes and osteoporosis as well.

Thefavorable aspects on a person's psyche are instead thereduction of depressive symptoms with consequent facilitation inmanaging anxiety andstressful situations as one gets distracted to do something else, but especially thanks to the release ofendorphins(hormones that help us deal with stress, giving a feeling of general well-being); aimproved quality of sleep and aincreased self-esteem. Chronic diseases such as depression lead to a lowering of the latter, moreoverimproving self-image through daily exercise allows you to give thecharge to face difficulties with more vitality.

The other aspect that goes hand in hand with physical activity is, as already mentioned,nutrition. Eating the wrong way can affectimmune system efficiency, mood disorders, mental alertness andheart health|| |189. La Mediterranean diet has always been a point of reference in this sense: it is important to take every daycereals, preferably whole grains to be boiled to be put into salads and soups, as well asproteins through white meat, fish and eggs. For dressing it is preferable to aim forextra virgin olive oil, even dairy products should be consumed sparingly. Finally, at leastfive portions of fruit and vegetables should be consumed a day and at leastdrank at least 8 glasses of water , limiting alcohol during meals.

The professional figures who deal with our health 

The progress made by science has allowed the birth of specialized personnel in seeking the perfect balance between body and mind. One of these is thedietician, a doctor with a degree in food science who formulates adiet to follow adapted to the specificity of the patients, both in terms of physical and pathological constitution. He can alsodiagnose andprescribe medicines, he is aware of the diseases associated with the types of food, so to know how to move in drawing up the list of foods that the patient will have to eat. Before practicing sport, one goes to aspecialized medical centres to havead hoc clinical tests related to his physical state, usingdiagnostic systems such as those ofBracco, in order to be sure ofperform the activity in total safety and avoid the presence of cardiovascular diseases or other problems.

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