Sport and medicine

Greek doctors agreed that sport is healthy. In Antiquity too, a moderate form of physical exercise was considered essential for a healthy lifestyle. The second-century AD doctor Galenus was a great advocate of the ball game as a complete and moreover pleasant training of the body. Also the priests of Asklepios, the god of medicine, recommended exercise as a remedy against some afflictions.

The ancient doctors emphasize strongly, however, that one should exercise moderately. The exaggerated training and eating of the professional athletes were condemned by many. Many doctors agreed that professional athletes ruined their bodies. Galenus even compared athletes to pigs.

Despite this negative opinion, there was a clear link between professional athletes and doctors. Sports doctors were connected with gymnasia, where they followed the condition of the athletes and cured wounds. Galenus himself worked for a while in a school for gladiators.

© KU Leuven, 2012