Find out about the Ancient Greek origin of gymnastics, and learn additional details about modern competitions and scoring.
The Discobolus Discus thrower ; a copy 1st c. Two physicians by the names of Hippocrates B. The magnitude of their discovery was such that their teachings dominated medical education and thought for almost 15 centuries.
Insufficient exercise is not only detrimental to the overall functions of the body, but also contributes to multiple chronic health disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke.
Hippocrates, who is universally honored as the father of medicine, was the first to introduce the revolutionary notion that diseases arise either from excessive food or too much exercise, and when the two are balanced this leads to good health.
Food and exercise, while possessing opposite properties, nevertheless mutually contribute to maintaining health. It is necessary, as it appears, to determine the exact powers of various exercises, both natural and artificial, and which of them contribute to the development of muscle and which to wear and tear.
Furthermore,one must proportion exercise to the quantity of food, to the predisposition of the person, to his age, to the season of the year, to the changes of the winds, to the geographical place in which the person resides, and to the climatic conditions of the specific year.
A long jumper performing his event, depicted alongside a musician playing the diaulos double-flutejudges and other athletes; Attic red-figure kylix, BC Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel.
Reading Hippocrates is more or less like reading a modern textbook on Ergophysiology, the modern scientific field that deals with the nature of exercise stimuli, biological adaptations to muscular effort and, by extension, the optimization of human performance.
It is fascinating that Hippocrates was able to discover, twenty-five centuries ago, what our latest scientific findings in Genomics have confirmed today about the importance of individualized exercise for the improvement of health and fitness.
This is exactly the same discovery at which Galen arrived later on, a discovery which has revolutionized today the entire field of Ergophysiology.
Not all bodily movement is exercise. Galen, without a doubt, was the most influential physician that ever lived and could be considered the forefather of Ergophysiology. By incorporating the teachings of Hippocrates he was able to systematize, for the first time, the prevailing ancient knowledge on the function of the human body during exercise.
The criterion of vigorousness is alteration of breathing; those movements that do not alter the respiration are not called exercise; but if anybody is obliged by any movement to breathe more or less or faster or more frequent, that movement becomes exercise for him.
This is what is commonly called exercise. While physical activity can be considered any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure above resting level, exercise is a planned, repetitive and purposeful physical activity aiming at the improvement or maintenance of health and fitness.
Our bodies are designed to be active and, despite the mounting evidence for the value of physical activity, people spend very little time being active at work, at home, or during transport and leisure activities. It is estimated that during the last half of the 20th century, daily energy expenditure for city dwellers has decreased about kcal, which is equivalent to daily walking of about 15 km.
Thus, sedentary behavior is so widespread in modern society that it has reached epidemic proportions, with harmful consequence to health functioning and well-being.
But why—one may ask, with respect to both modern and ancient times—should we exercise? Again, Hippocrates gives a clear-cut answer to this question, in Book 2 of his On Dietetics, where, in only a few lines, he encapsulates most of the health benefits of exercise!
This is, in fact, what Galen also noted in Book 5 of his On Hygiene. He observed that, although exercise cannot stop the aging process, it can certainly delay it; thus, he proposed that the elderly need not be less active than the young. This finding is confirmed today by a large number of longitudinal, cross-sectional and experimental studies that clearly stress the importance of regular exercise on the aging process: Regular exercise is essential for living longer and aging better and should include two main modalities: Progress and Challenges, The Lancet July 27, Full-Text Paper (PDF): Effects of a recreational gymnastics program on the motor proficiency of young children.
Diminished physical activity patterns are often observed among contemporary Greek children, 7, 9 and the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents in Greece seems to be among the highest in the world. 6 Given that low physical activity levels coupled with excess body fat are significant predictors of developing coronary heart disease.
For an update on Exercise & Health and for integration of physical activity into our daily lives, refer to: Physical Activity Progress and Challenges, The Lancet (July 27, ).
The sport of gymnastics, which derives its name from the ancient Greek word for disciplinary exercises, combines physical skills such as body control, coordination, dexterity, gracefulness, and strength with tumbling and acrobatic skills, all performed in an artistic manner.
Quarterly scientific, online publication by Department of Nursing A’, Technological Educational Institute of Athens Page | Physical activity in a sample of elderly Greek people: a research study.
Regular physical activity and good physical fitness help enhance the quality of life in many ways. Physical fitness and exercise can help one look good, feel good and enjoy life.
and has always been part of the ancient, as well as the modern Olympics games. The term “gymnastics” derives from the Greek word “gymnos”, meaning naked /5(6).