SEGULOT: The Benefits of Physical Activity, According to Maimonides

SEGULOT: The Benefits of Physical Activity, According to Maimonides

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הויאל והיות הגוף בריא ושלם, מדרכי ה ‘הוא, שהרי אי אפשר שיבין או יידע והוא חולה צריך אדם להרחיק עצמו מדברים המאבדין את הגוף, ולהנהיג עצמו בדברים המברים המחלימים
In the fourth chapter of MT, Hilkhot De’ot, Maimonides says that maintaining a strong and healthy body helps to prevent diseases, allowing us to serve HaShem with all our strength. “Being that maintaining a healthy and sound body is part of our service to God, since one can not understand or have knowledge of the Creator if he is ill, therefore, one must avoid everything that damages the body and get accustomed to what it is healthy and helps the body to get stronger. “ Hilkhot De’ot, 4: 1
In the same chapter, halakha 14, the celebrated rabbi and physician, explains the importance of regular physical activity.
Hilkhot De’ot 4, Halakha 14
“There is another principle with regards to physical well-being: As long as one exercises, exerts himself greatly, and does not eat to the point of satiation … he will not suffer sickness and he will grow in strength….”
This Halakha, written more than 800 years ago, sounds very familiar to our modern ears, and allows us to appreciate that our Rabbis had long known the basic principles of preventive medicine.
Maimonides also wrote, Hilkhot De’ot 4 Halakha 15
“… whoever feels idle and does not exercise, … even if he eats the proper foods and is careful to follow the rules of medicine, he will suffer pain [and disease] … and his physical strength will diminish.
I would like to share with the readers other advices from Maimonides, less known, where he also refers to the importance of physical activity. I will quote below the words of Maimonides from David J. Zulberg’s book, “The Life Transforming Diet”,  a modern book of medical advice based entirely on the medical principles of HaRambam.
“Hippocrates [a renowned Greek physician, 460 – 370 BC, considered the Father of Modern Medicine] taught that exercise is the cornerstone of the preservation of health and the prevention of most illness. There is nothing that can substitute for exercise in any way” (p. 99)
“Without exercise diet alone is not sufficient for the preservation of health, and eventually medical treatment will be needed” (p. 100)
“…someone who is used to physical activity, even if he has a sick body or is old, is able to tolerate [illness and recover from it] better than a healthy person who is not used to physical activity” (p. 102)
This text is from a letter Maimonides sent to one of this patients
“As to what you mentioned, that you feel weak after exercises, the cause of this is the omission of regular exercises. If you resume exercising gradually, little by little, you will gain…strength and vitality…” (p. 102)
SEGULA FOR A GOOD HEALTH: Do not overeat, and do physical activity regularly.