Wednesday, 01 July 2020 14:56

Sound mind in a healthy body

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Health enhancement, not disease prevention, is the perfect recipe for physical well-being

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of exercise for over-65s because that is the cohort I mainly work with as a fitness trainer in Madrid. At one point, I came across the following quote by the French feminist writer, teacher, and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir: “Age isn’t important to people who feel good, are satisfied with the condition they are in and have a good relationship with the environment.” There has never been a more fitting saying for my students, all over 65 and active athletes.

Maintaining an active body and a mind open to new experiences is the exact combination of what moves us forward in life. In other words, it makes us evolve, which is different from progressing in the purely physical sense that many sports coaches put into the concept.

If we do sports and think about ourselves evolutionarily, i.e., how to improve by accumulating new experiences, we stimulate mental activity changes through movement. As we can well see, this is a loop that we shouldn’t run away from, just as we won’t flee from the balloon exercise I’m offering you today… even though it’ll seem like a ridiculous challenge at first.


Let’s remember once again why it’s important to exercise!

Physical activity isn’t the same as physical exercise. Physical activity refers to any type of human activity – from brushing teeth, climbing stairs, or shopping. On the other hand, physical exercises have a particular structure and content. They must meet the PSYCHOMOTRICITY criteria, otherwise known as “musculoskeletal criteria.”

The ancient Greeks believed in the existence of harmony between bodily and verbal expressions, which led them to the apogee in their way of expression. We continue to draw on their wisdom to this very day. For the Romans, bodily communication receded in importance as verbal debate prevailed. In the 20th century, the philosopher and biologist John Dupré, currently a professor at the University of Exeter, was the first to use the term “child psychometrics” when talking about a motor weakness, where he noted a close link between mental and motor disorders.

Psychomotricity is a science that studies humans through their bodies in motion and the relationship between their inner and outer worlds. It can be summarised as the ability to realize, define, and coordinate body movements. The word “psychomotricity” comes from the Greek noun “psukhḗ” (soul) and the Latin verb “moto” (moves often, shakes hard).

Recently, I very carefully listened to what Dr. Valentin Fuster, Spanish cardiologist, and director of CNIC, said in his presentation for the “Learning Together” program sponsored by the Spanish banking conglomerate BBVA. Here is a quote that made an impression on me: “Nowadays, it’s much more important to enhance health than to prevent disease.” His words are based on studies that have been going on for years around the world, but which we rarely pay attention to because that would upset the balance between marketing and what we really need. A war that advertising companies are currently winning over consumers, especially those with suggestible minds. The decision to take care of yourself is personal and involves reason. Think about whether there’s any point in running seven kilometers a day and then eating whatever you find in the fridge once you’re back home?

Very much yours and eternally prudent,
Elisaveta Shiderska
Specialist in conditioning training

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Elisaveta Shiderska

Elisaveta is a Bulgarian who has been living in the Spanish capital of Madrid for 15 years. She has, for many years, been a sports journalist and conditioning coach. She considers herself very lucky in life because she has managed to turn what she loves – sports and healthy habits – into her job. She says her method of work is rather old-fashioned. She loves details, people, and children. She likes correct forms, biomechanics, and didactics. She loses her mind over unsightly, bent bones that nevertheless dance with the corresponding muscles in perfect harmony.

Eli is also an author of books for healthy habits, especially for kids.

Currently working as a conditioning specialist at the Municipal Centre for the Elderly “Prosperidad Santa Hortensia” and correspondent of the Bulgarian National Radio in Madrid. She graduated as a physical training coach in Barcelona and Sofia and has a master’s degree in Engineering Geoecology.

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