He also said cited this from one of his debates:
‘ Because a free man ought not to learn anything under duress. Compulsory physical exercise does no harm to the body, but compulsory learning never sticks to the mind.’
‘Then don’t use compulsion,’ I said to him, ‘ but let your children’s lessons take the form of play. You will learn more about their natural abilities that way.’
While we are certainly not doing to disagree with Plato, this was quoted in reference to intellectual goals. And it is true, compulsory exercise certainly does no harm, if that single session is all you are examining. However it sets a precedent for the emotions experienced during exercise. Consider the future Plato! Are the children of your Republic more likely to continue healthy active lives if they are forced into compulsory exercise’s they dislike or encouraged to find activities that they enjoy. When considering choice of physical activity in school, enjoyment should be very high on the list.
One could argue that it is even more important to enjoy the physical activities over the intellectual ones. Maths may not be for everyone, a good basic high school grounding though will be with you for life.
“The mind decays more slowly, and with less signs than the body” – Parenthlete
So the repetition of physical activity is more likely to be required through adulthood than intellectual in a particular discipline for the majority of people.
We live in a time of endless predefined workouts “Get ripped in 20minutes a day!” advertising promises. Routines that may or may not be over-promising results, but I can almost guarantee that you will not be enjoying those 20 minutes!
Let us not underestimate the importance of making exercise as positive and enjoyable an experience as possible for ourselves and our kids.