As we move into 2019, it’s again time for me to draw some cohesive themes from KineSophy in 2018. I think 2018 saw this website grow out of its stable foundation and begin to explore new avenues of thought in health, fitness, sports, society and philosophy. In particular, I extended some of the basic principles of KineSophy into new topics in society, medicine, philosophy and politics. Six different thinkers in related fields directly contributed their knowledge to the project. Two other books in related fields contributed additional insights to my outlook on health and fitness. And the KineSophy Mindfulness Project blossomed in its first full year, with four new articles by experts in this arena.
Moving Beyond Movement
In previous years, I wrote about connections between physical fitness and cognitive ability, sociability, equality, motivation and the good life. This year, I extended those ideas to include specific examples. In January, I argued that contrary to a recent study indicating that standing on escalators provides the most efficient traffic flow, traffic would move faster if everybody walked. However, in acknowledging that some people prefer not to or cannot walk, we can probe deeper ideas about motivation, the desire for efficiency and social cooperation. In February, I looked at two case studies which highlight the relationship between physical movement and cognitive function. Patients immobilized by locked-in syndrome show improvement after undergoing constraint-induced therapy. This treatment approach attempts to introduce new movements and promote new connections and functions between nerve cells. On a similar note, high-intensity exercise has been shown to slow declines caused by Parkinson’s disease.
In March, I praised the U.S. Army’s new gender-neutral fitness standards as reflecting the fact that real life presents challenges that do not care about our preconceived notions about what different people are suited to do. And facing such challenges is an important part of what it means to be human, as I argued in a June article about philosopher Robert Nozick’s experience machine thought experiment.
The following month, I extended another philosophical argument about the ethical obligation of doctors to provide brain wellness training for dementia patients. In a similar vein, because the benefits of physical wellness training are well-documented, physical fitness can reduce the likelihood and severity of several lethal diseases, and doctors have access to the relevant treatment tools, medical practitioners have an ethical obligation to provide their patients with physical wellness training. I also offered a personal example in support of Nozick’s argument in a September article about my fulfilling experience at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships despite my below average placing in that event.
Finally, I continued my chronicle of Ethiopian marathoner Feyisa Lilesa later in the month. After protesting the Ethiopian government’s treatment of his Oromo ethnic group at the 2016 Olympics, Lilesa feared going back to his home country. He lived and trained in the United States for the past two years. But earlier this year, massive changes in Ethiopian politics made his return home seem possible.
2018 also saw my continued efforts to bring other voices in KineSophy-related fields to the site. I shared my reviews of books by endurance athlete and coach Brian Mackenzie and exercise physiologist Andy Galpin, philosopher David Papineau, and chiropractor Eric Goodman. I was also fortunate enough to interview Dr. Papineau about his book Knowing the Score and discuss his thoughts on the overlaps between sports and philosophical topics like morality, rules and theory of mind.
In an April interview, pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris discussed the connection between physical health and psychological stress, especially toxic childhood stress. She also suggested specific physical health interventions that can alleviate toxic stress. Neuroscientist and philosopher Michael Mannino helped deepen the mental-physical connection in an interview later that month. He explained his theory that having a body that moves is essential for shaping the mind and its cognitive processes.
Later in the year, physician Ranit Mishori spoke to me about the overprescription of drugs and her shift towards prescribing exercise to her patients. Her recommendations are based on guidelines from Exercise is Medicine. This growing initiative offers templates for patient assessments and exercise prescriptions. Philosophers and bloggers Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs shared their personal journeys toward physical health in a June interview. In 2012, they set a goal to become the fittest they’ve ever been by their fiftieth birthdays two years later. Along the way, they developed a philosophical framework for discussing fitness, motivation and equality.
Each of these influencers made important contributions to KineSophy in 2018. Their gracious insights provided a variety of perspectives on health, fitness, sports, cognition, medicine and philosophy.
Mindfulness in 2018 and Beyond
External contributions to KineSophy were especially concentrated in the field of mindfulness. As a result, the KineSophy Mindfulness Series took off in 2018 with four new articles on this topic.
In June, teacher and researcher Leah Weiss distinguished between mindfulness and meditation and explained how to be more mindful at all times. While Dr. Weiss encourages regular meditation, she also emphasized we can practice mindfulness outside of a dedicated meditation practice. She describes developing mindfulness by performing a simple scan of our physical bodies. Psychotherapist Saundra Jain observed a lack of this everyday mindfulness in her practice. According to Dr. Jain, mindfulness is an integral part of a complete wellness program, alongside exercise, sleep, social connectedness and nutrition.
Artist and author Joanna Ciolek echoed Dr. Jain’s call for total wellness in her August contribution to the series. In her article, she offered three specific exercises to reduce stress hormone levels and aid relaxation. Mental and community health instructor Amy Funk gave additional tips for active, on-the-go meditation practices in her article later that month. She described using a quick meditation practice to deal with a spiritual crisis and practicing mindfulness during her nature walks.
Each of these thinkers provided a unique perspective on mindfulness and the relationship between our mental and physical health. Mindfulness is such a complex topic that can be both very personal and difficult to describe. As such, it requires a multitude of voices to connect this subject with KineSophy’s diverse readership. I look forward to curating new perspectives on mindfulness in 2019.
Looking Ahead to 2019
Expect more of the same from KineSophy in 2019. Which is to say, expect more explorations of new topics in health, fitness, sports, society and philosophy. Not to mention contributions from new voices in those fields. Thanks to everyone who read, shared and commented on KineSophy articles this year. I wish you all a healthy, happy and successful 2019.