Mens sana in corpore sano

5 January 2017

Living between our three cultures of Belgium, Greece and Britain means that as a family we get to savour wonderful festive meals that start on 6 December with St Nicholas marzipan and speculoos biscuits, continue with at least three turkey dinners all the way to the third week of December, culminate on Christmas eve with oysters and foie gras and go all the way to New Year’s Eve Greek cake Vasilopita. Add to all these at least 20 mince pies, half a kilo of ‘bûche de Noël’ with ganache chocolate, several glasses of Saumur and Bordeaux and we will have made it to this New Year happier and heavier than ever.

Although I have always been a fan of Epicure, it is the Roman poet Juvenal who inspired this week’s blog. His orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano (you should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body) is a good way to start afresh the new year. Our mostly sedentary working lives, social media invasion and long commuting leave little space for exercise and yet physical exercise and healthy eating are not only important for our body’s health, they help the brain stay sharp.

Linking this to work of the Council, including our endorsement of the Exercise Works! physical activity and health resources, the prescription of physical activity now forms part of public health interventions and evidence links inactivity with greater health risks. For healthcare academics, the promotion of physically active lifestyles is an important part of not just advocacy but role modelling in professional practice, education and research.

So, this new year, let’s grasp the opportunity to do more about our body and mind: from a walking meeting and taking the stairs to swapping those chocolates with fruit, it is the myriad of small things that are going to make the big difference. And focusing on those small lifestyle changes does not mean that I regret my festive feast indulgence. On the contrary, I cherish the memory of celebrating with loved ones over great home cooked food. And I already look forward to next year’s celebrations.

Happy New Year,


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