We are assailed with good advice on how to keep fit. Diet and exercise top the list, and increasingly there is a nod to mental wellbeing as well. For example, omega 3 helps brain function (so eat oily fish), and exercise makes us feel good.
Wise counsel, but always the implication is that if you keep physically fit you have more chance of good psychological wellbeing as well; it’s a side-effect.
‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ has been with us since it was formally enshrined in the maxim by the Roman poet Juvenal a few hundred years ago, but this is the shortened version and it doesn’t really do it. It still implies that a healthy mind is incidental to physical health, which is not the case. There are plenty of people who are emotionally balanced and psychologically fit despite poor physical health.
The full advice was to “pray for a healthy body in a healthy mind”, which is quite different. We can all strive for the ideal (healthy body AND healthy mind), but if we can’t manage one, it doesn’t preclude the other.
Given its central importance in our lives, it seems like a good idea to actively care our minds just as we (should) do for our bodies. You could argue that our increasingly sedentary and urbanised lifestyle makes it imperative that our minds should get out more, even if our bodies can’t manage it.
Maintaining a healthy mind means feeding it a healthy diet and exercising it properly.