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Background

In addition to the harmful impact physical inactivity exerts on the bodily, mental, and social-emotional health of individuals, it also exerts a heavy financial toll on families and communities. Then, in a cancerous-like manner, this negative financial toll metastasizes itself regionally, nationally, and, eventually, globally, often compromising the ability of some nations to function in a manner that best serves its citizens.

Over the years, numerous articles, reports, and research papers have been written documenting this issue, especially as it relates to the growing incidence of chronic diseases—in particular, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and depression—and global warming. But few, if any, solutions have been implemented that constructively deal with the issue. In this context, most people understandably view chronic diseases and global warming as problems themselves, rather than as symptoms of a problem—the growing incidence of physical inactivity in all its forms and manners as an outgrowth of a global, devalued physical-domain paradigm.

Perspective and Need

At the American Sports Institute, we do not view chronic diseases and global warming as problems, but rather, as symptoms of a problem. We view the growing incidence of physical inactivity, from local communities to the global stage, as an outgrowth of a devalued physical-domain paradigm. Just as a rash (read: chronic diseases) and fever (read: global warming) are not problems themselves but symptoms of a bacterial or viral infection, so, too, are chronic diseases and global warming symptoms of a devalued physical-domain paradigm. Thus, in order to get at the root cause of chronic diseases, global warming, and other related issues, including how we educate schoolchildren, so these issues can be dealt with in a constructive manner, the need is to have a paradigm where the physical domain is elevated to equal standing and reintegrated with the mental and spiritual domains, an honored position the physical domain once held some two thousand years ago.

While there are some who agree with this perspective, most claim that it is not viable because financial structures of all scales—local to global—have been and are increasingly becoming more and more sedentary, and that this paradigm shift and its implications would disrupt these structures and wreak havoc everywhere, creating more problems than it would solve.

Our Response

With this perspective in mind and in response to this need, as a division of the American Sports Institute, the Center for Physical Economies (CPE) is a center for theory, research, evaluation, analysis, and development of programs and projects related to physicalizing humanity’s way of being in the world by enabling financial structures of all scales—local, regional, national, and global—to be physicality-based, not sedentary-based, where physical activity is fully integrated into all aspects of daily life—home, work, school, transportation, etc.—as a way to deal with many pressing issues, including chronic diseases, global warming, and education, in viable, sustainable ways. Through this transformational process, an eventual paradigm shift will take hold that elevates the physical domain to equal standing and reintegrates it with the mental and spiritual domains, enriching the lives of people, organizations, and nations everywhere.

Resources

Video interview and podcast with Dr. Jouni Välijärvi, Emeritus Professor and former director of the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, on the current and future socioeconomic implications related to the low levels of physical activity being engaged in by today’s youth.

Video interview and podcast with Prof. Timo Jaakkola of the University of Jyväskylä on the declining rates of physical activity in Finland and the economic consequences related to this issue.

An Imperative to “Physicalize” Our Way of Being in the World, a paper (pdf) published by the American Sports Institute on how ‘physicalizing’ public-school systems worldwide is the best way to educate children everywhere to provide an effective, long-term approach to slowing and eventually reversing the social and economic burdensome costs of misguided educational practices and chronic diseases.

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