By Wallace J. Nichols, PhD Paperback, 368 pp, Little, Brown and Company, 2014
Reviewed by Paul J. Kiell, MD
I’m always impressed at the prescience of authors and poets where they describe the more transcendent benefits of aerobic exercise. For example, the old Roman dictum Mens sana in corpore sano (You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body) or the last lines of Dryden’s 18th century poem: "The wise, for cure, on exercise depend; God never made his work for man to mend."
In Blue Mind, proclaiming the power of water to heal his mental state, just note this quote originally from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, spoken by the protagonist, Ishmael:
“Some years ago––never mind how long precisely––having little or no money in my purse, and nothing to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially when my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off––then, I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.”
Blue Mind tells of, and scientifically validates with cutting-edge neuroscience, the benefits of exercise per-se, particularly of water, as regulators of the brain neurohormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, etc.), explaining why we are attracted to the streams, the lakes, the rivers, the oceans, and to top it off, even to the color blue itself. The author successfully shows how, through water, we can improve performance, relieve stress and anxiety, and increase overall well-being.
Read more here.
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