As the end of 2019 approaches, it’s time for my usual attempt to summarize the previous year on KineSophy. KineSophy continued to grow from its foundation, and I was able to explore new issues in health, fitness, sports, society and philosophy. I also tried to apply the ideas of KineSophy to a concrete approach to physical fitness. In addition, the site benefited from more new perspectives on the central ideas of KineSophy, including three new articles in the KineSophy Mindfulness Series.
Approaching Fitness Through Philosophy
In January, I offered an approach to making fitness-related New Year’s resolutions based on the philosophy of existentialism. Though any attempt you make at physical fitness might not matter in the grand scheme of things, finding a fitness goal that matters to you will be easier to accomplish and will prove more fulfilling. But how do you stick to your goal? In March, I argued in favor of honestly assessing how you spend your time on a daily basis. Your actions indicate what you value. And if you truly value your physical health, you will make that a priority in your schedule and cut out any inessential activities that get in the way.
But our lives don’t always go as planned. We experience setbacks or lose sight of our goals. In April, I used my experience with an injury days before a big race to explain how physical training can help us develop adaptability and adjust to setbacks in all facets of life. And in November, I returned to existentialism to show how to get back on track when you stray from your fitness goals. The key is realizing that you always have a new opportunity to create a life that has meaning to you. If your goals matter to you, it’s easier to find your way back to them and avoid future pitfalls.
2019 also saw more new voices contributing their unique perspectives to ongoing KineSophy discussions. In February, farmer and consultant Dr. Allen Williams supplemented my Complete Guide to Sustainable Protein by explaining how grazing livestock improve soil fertility and plant diversity, and how a properly managed pasture-raised livestock system can feed the world.
In July, journalist and former national team distance runner Alex Hutchinson discussed the key insights from his new book Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. In our interview, he explained how the top endurance athletes overcome mental and physical blocks and how the rest of us can apply these strategies.
Two months later, Exercise Is Medicine Vice President Robyn Stuhr explained how her organization works with physicians and community health partners to use exercise to treat a variety of health conditions. Later that month, philosopher and author Damon Young described the mental and moral benefits of exercise. According to Young, exercise can help us develop creativity and moral virtues. However, physical fitness alone does not make a person more moral, a subject I took up in an October article.
Mindfulness in 2019
The KineSophy Mindfulness Series closed out in 2019, with three new articles on this subject.
In January, psychiatrist James Lake shared a host of research on how mindfulness and mind-body practices influence positive mood. Mindfulness training, and yoga in particular, have been shown to enhance general emotional well-being, reduce depression, and regulate the autonomic nervous system.
The following month, psychotherapist and teacher Linda Graham offered a personal story to illustrate how mindfulness can help develop resilience. She reminded readers that you can control how you respond to any situation. And controlling your response to minor inconveniences makes you better prepared to deal with major catastrophes.
In April, yoga therapist and gerontologist Charlotte Nuessle explained how yoga practice can reduce stress and improve self-awareness and compassion. The poses and mindful breathing of yoga make us more self-aware and help regulate the autonomic nervous system. This practice allows us to be more conscious of our surroundings and respond to trying situations with empathy and compassion.
Coming in 2020
As mentioned above, much of 2019 focused on developing a psychological/philosophical approach to physical fitness and health. I hope the articles in this series continue to serve as useful reminders in the years to come. Return to the existentialist approach to setting and sticking to goals whenever you have a new goal to achieve. Take a hard look at what you value and how you spend your days when you feel pressed for time. And remember that your physical practice will help you adapt to the inevitable challenges in all aspects of your life.
I don’t have a roadmap for where KineSophy is going in 2020. Yet, even seven years into this project, I continue to find philosophical inspiration in health, fitness and sports. I look forward to exploring new ideas and engaging new voices next year.
Thanks to everyone who read, shared and responded to KineSophy articles this year. I wish you all a healthy, happy and successful 2020.