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Avicenna - The Canon of Medicine - On exercise



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Avicenna (1999). The Canon of Medicine (al-Qānūn fī'l-ṭibb), vol. 1. Laleh Bakhtiar (ed.), Oskar Cameron Gruner (trans.), Mazhar H. Shah (trans.). Great Books of the Islamic World

"Massage [should be used] as a preparatory to athletics. The massage begins gently, and then becomes more vigorous as the time approaches for the exercise.

[The exercises themselves are divided into 'strenuous, mild, vigorous and brisk'. On pages 379–381; Ibn Sina states the types of exercises under each type]:

  • Strenuous exercises include: wrestling contests, boxing, quick marching, running, jumping over an object higher than one foot, throwing the javelin, fencing, horsemanship, swimming.
  • Mild exercises include: fishing, sailing, being carried on camels, swinging to and fro.
  • Vigorous exercises include: those performed by soldiers in camp, in military sports; field running, long jumping, high jumping, polo, stone throwing, lifting heavy stones or weights, various forms of wrestling.
  • Brisk exercises include: involves interchanging places with a partner as swiftly as possible, each jumping to and fro, either in time [to music] or irregularly.

……….At the conclusion of the first day's exercise, you will know the degree of exercise allowable and when you know the amount of nourishment the person can bear, do not make any change in either on the second day. Arrange that the measure of aliment, and the amount of exercise shall not exceed that limit ascertained on the first day.

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