One year ago, I closed 2020 hoping for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and optimistic that we had learned some hard lessons from the previous year. While the first wish hasn’t come to fruition in 2021, I do believe the past two years have forced all of us to re-examine our beliefs about health, wellness and our relationships with other humans. On KineSophy, I have tried to balance a look back at some of the earliest articles on the site with new voices and perspectives, while keeping in mind our rapidly changing global health landscape. Welcome to the KineSophy 2021 Year in Review.
2021 saw the unfortunate continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a gradual shift to reimagining life and public health in a post-pandemic world. A look back at this year’s KineSophy articles shows a similar shift, with pieces ranging from COVID-19 to public health in general, to renewed calls for incorporating physical fitness into a well-rounded life.
I opened the year on a practical note, with goal-setting advice for anyone working toward a New Year’s resolution. In “How Much Exercise Is Enough?”, I argued that such questions are ineffective when it comes to making significant changes in one’s life. Instead, being the person you want to be—in all spheres of life—requires having specific objectives and exerting regular effort.
COVID-19 and Public Health
Yet by May, I felt compelled to return to the issue of COVID-19. That month’s featured article tackled the primary public health recommendations for slowing COVID-19 and considered other health practices with good evidence of blocking the virus, along with an assessment of why certain practices are recommended over others.
I continued my look at public health in July and August, primarily in “Annual Medicare Costs and the Ethics of Physical Activity.” In that article, I argued that a recent study showing active adults had lower annual Medicare costs provided further support for the ethics of exercise.
Fitness, Society and Ethics
I also dove into the public perception of obesity and the practice of fat-shaming. In a July article, I used arguments against fat-shaming to highlight some flaws in a virtue ethics approach to morality. The following month, I critiqued another piece on fat-shaming, pointing out that abstaining from fat-shaming should not come at the cost of ignoring health issues associated with obesity.
Towards the end of the year, I returned to the base of the KineSophy project. My September article “The Ethics of Fitness in Prison Populations” elaborated on a piece I wrote in 2014 and showed how diverse physical practices offer positive behavioral and mental health outcomes for prison inmates.
And in November, I expanded on two articles from 2014 (and on much of my early KineSophy writing). In this most recent article, I argued that no matter who you are or what you want from life, everyone should care about physical fitness.
As always, I am grateful for the many different perspectives that enriched KineSophy in 2021. Interviews with several brilliant authors offered further explorations into the many ways in which physical movement shapes who we are as humans. In February, Blue Mind author and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols explained how being in or near water improves our health and well-being. Splash! author Howard Means continued this aquatic theme the following month when he detailed the history of swimming over the past 10,000 years and the varied cultural impacts of this activity.
Also in March, runner, journalist and The Way of the Runner author Adharanand Finn described the different mindsets of Kenyan and Japanese runners. Historian and Why Running Matters author Ian Mortimer delivered more running-related wisdom in June when he explained the significance of running beyond physical fitness and how running can make us better people. And in October, paleoanthropologist and First Steps author Jeremy DeSilva took us back through human history to explain how humans evolved to walk on two legs and why the shift to bipedalism helped our ancestors think critically and build communities.
In addition to these interviews, I also published two reviews of books on health, fitness, society and what it means to be human. My February review of Norman Cousins’s Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient highlighted a welcome return to a book I first read for a high school research project. All these years later, it still holds up as a powerful and practical guide to illness and recovery.
Last month, I finally finished a book I had been meaning to read ever since my 2019 interview with author Alex Hutchinson. In Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, Hutchinson provides a fascinating, in-depth look at the many components of human endurance.
For more KineSophy-related books, look for my review of Jeremy DeSilva’s First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human in the near future. And for a complete list of all the books and authors featured on KineSophy, check out The KineSophy Library, published in January and updated regularly.
Coming in 2022
Sadly, I will close 2021 with continued hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to normalcy in 2022. And on a more positive note, I look forward to the continued re-examination of issues in health, fitness, sports, society and philosophy on this site. I fully expect my experiences of the past two years and the continued infusion of new perspectives on these topics to keep moving KineSophy forward in 2022 and beyond.
As usual, many thanks to everyone who read, shared and responded to KineSophy articles this year. I wish you all a safe, healthy, happy and successful 2022.