2020 Year in Review

Wow, 2020 has been a year. As I go through my annual project of taking stock of the year in KineSophy, everything I wrote before mid-March seems like it’s already several years old. In January, before we all realized how essential exercising indoors would become, I opined about the virtues and shortcomings of a Peloton advertisement and recalled a recent visit to Disney World. And in early March, I wrote about a new addition to the 2024 Olympics, back when this year’s Olympics still seemed like a sure thing. But, in a year when a global pandemic brought the world to a standstill, now is a good time to remember the important ways in which physical health intersects with ethical behavior and to look to some of the brightest people at these intersections as we move forward.


When the COVID-19 pandemic overtook the United States in March 2020, I knew KineSophy had to respond to this devastating health crisis and the issues it raised. Like many people who were only impacted by stay-at-home orders and not by direct contact with the disease, I first thought about how to maintain my normal routines as much as possible. In early April, I took solace in seeing others compare social isolation to astronaut training or hearing about a French runner who completed a marathon on his balcony.

Jumping from 2020 to 2021

But as the pandemic continued to worsen, I wanted to do more. In mid-April, I offered some recommendations for the top charities supporting COVID-19 relief. And in May, I shared my best practices for managing the stress of the entire COVID-19 situation. Sadly, these two pieces remain relevant as the virus surges again across the globe.

And one of the most worrisome aspects of the pandemic has been the vitriol surrounding the disease and basic public health recommendations to combat it. As I wrote in a July article, the politicization of mask-wearing and enforced social distancing and the blame cast on the unfortunate people who contract the virus recall long-outdated beliefs about illness and morality. As I have previously argued on KineSophy, we should strive to be strong, intelligent and healthy, but also honest, kind and empathetic, in order to be our best selves in all spheres of virtue.

Other Voices

As KineSophy continues to grow, I have been thrilled to have other voices contribute their insights to this project. In 2020, KineSophy hosted an annual high of seven interviews on subjects as diverse as performance-enhancing drug use and how walking makes us more creative.

In February, Dr. Thomas Murrary, author of Good Sport: Why Our Games Matter…and How Doping Undermines Them discussed the inherent value of sports and how performance-enhancing drug use violates what we admire about athletes and competition. Philosopher Dr. Sigmund Loland followed up on those themes in a June interview about the defining characteristics of a sport and how sports matter in a moral sense.

In June, scientist and athlete Joanna Harper discussed her research on the performance of transgender versus cisgender athletes and offered advice for sports governing bodies concerned with the fair treatment of all athletes. Two months later, eating coach and counselor Jared Levenson made the final contribution to the KineSophy Mindfulness Series with his article about yoga and other forms of mindful exercise.

In September, Army neuroscientist and athlete Dr. Allison Brager discussed her book Meathead: Unraveling the Athletic Brain and how she combined her experience as an elite athlete with cutting edge research into the effects of athletic training on brain structure. Psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, tackled this subject from the standpoint of amateur athletes and exercisers in our October interview. We discussed how one Illinois school district boosted its test scores by modifying its physical education program, the way exercise boosts mood and the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.

Finally, in a pair of November interviews, authors Jono Lineen and Mark Kingwell discussed the various ways that physical activity can affect other traits and aspects of life. In his book Perfect Motion: How Walking Makes Us Wiser and our conversation, Lineen explains how walking boosts creativity and helped humans develop our sense of time and love of stories. Later in the month, philosophy professor Mark Kingwell discussed his book Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters and explained how baseball helps us come to grips with failure and other important life lessons.

Looking Ahead to 2021

2020 has been a hard year, a historic year and, hopefully, an enlightening year. The last several months have hammered home the importance of physical health and freedom of physical movement. While I look forward to an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to normalcy in the coming year, I also don’t want to forget the hard lessons of 2020.

Whatever happens in the next twelve months, I hope we can all approach the future with a better sense of our interconnected humanity and a better understanding of how to help ourselves and one another during trying times. And even when the world looks especially bleak, it’s good to know we can always turn to other bright minds to keep us moving forward.

Thanks to everyone who read, shared and responded to KineSophy articles this year. I wish you all a safe, healthy, happy and successful 2021.