Ibn Sina and Sports

by The Editorial Team Published on: 19th February 1700

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Ibn Sina advices people to partake in diets, bathing and intensive sports...

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The Editorial Note: Extracted from the article “Beauty, Hair and Body Care in the Canon of Ibn Sina” written by Nil Sari on 17th June 2005


  • Digestion or the “attractive force” (quvva-i câzibe[8] may be inefficient. These forces weaken because of the corrupted (fesâd) humour (mizac). Typically, the corrupt humour causing weakness is the “cold” humor (mizac-i barid). The cause of the weakness of the attractive force is “extreme inactivity” (kasrat-i sukûn); for when one is much too inactive, the “attractive force” becomes unresponsive and dormant. This condition is observed more frequently in those who have the habit of activating their function of attracting food by their own “attractive force” with the help of exercise, this is, sports. If such people remain in continuous inactivity, however moderate, (mutedil) the food they eat may be, the “attraction of food” by the attractive force weakens. Here the importance of sports is mentioned in the terms of feeding.
  • Too much dissolution of the food (kesret-i tahallul): The food reaches the organs as intended, yet undergoes too much dissolution upon arrival. (This reminds us of the catabolism and metabolic reactions.) Emaciation may develop by partaking in heavy sports (riyazât-i seriâ), anxiety (hümûm), worries (gumûm) and consuming diseases.
  • Although it is understood that being overweight was regarded as desirable in the past, Ibn Sina had made observations of the harmfulness of obesity. Leading Ibn Sina to conclude that “Obesity also does harm. The obesity [in overweight people] is not like [that which appears in] normal people. Yet, they do not take it seriously as long as they do not appear to receive any harm from it. But one must protect oneself and beware of excessive obesity. Although they may not be suffering from obesity and see no harm in it, their health may unexpectedly fail. In order to lose weight, Ibn Sina advices people to partake in diets, bathing and intensive sports. After achieving these regimes, methods for toning organs such as the arms and legs are discussed.

Additional extract fromSphygmology of Ibn Sina, a Message for Future” by M.M. Zarshenas, Z. Abolhassanzadeh, P. Faridi, A. Mohagheghzadeh

  • Ibn Sina mentioned that different physiological conditions could affect pulse parameters. He mentioned that pulse is massive, fast and frequent when stomach is full. Sport and physical exercise will modify the pulse. During the pregnancy period, pulse is bigger than in the other periods, yet being fast, frequent and massive. Along the end months of pregnancy, especially when approaching the labor phase, pulse becomes thin, weak, fast and frequent. Inflammation changes the pulse to saw-like one. Anger makes it massive, tall, fast and frequent, while distress makes it thin, weak, slow, and different.
    [References:  Ibn Sina. Tehran: Selsele Intisharat-e Anjomane Asare Melli; 1951. Rag Shenasi ya Resaleh dar Nabz (Pulsology, or, treatise on pulse) – Ibn Sina. Translated by Sharafkandi A. Vol. 3. Tehran: Soroush (Publisher); 1987. Qanoun fi al-Tibb (Canon of medicine)]

His biography also published in Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal as “Ibn Sina: The Islamic Polymath” written by Alan Weber

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