Nike has nearly always been expert at touching our hearts and hopes in its advertising. Now, the company that coined that cultural meme "Just Do It" is telling the world how to do this: get people moving in order to start to lengthen human lifespans recently cut by inactivity and overeating.
In the video above and an accompanying report entitled Designed to Move, Nike and its partners make clear that it is the world's kids that can expect to live lives up to five years shorter than their parents.
The report blames the "widespread physical inactivity epidemic" for a decrease in both economic and emotional well-being. It doesn't mention the fact that overeating, and less nutrition and more chemicals in our overly-packaged and overly-processed foods also play a role.
But the solution, the report says, is clear:
"We must find ways to integrate the physical activity we’ve lost, back into our lives."
The U.S. has had some of the most startling declines in physical activity - a 32% drop since 1965. By contrast, the UK's levels of physical activity have dropped just 25% since 1961. In China, with its rapid industrialization, the decrease is even more marked - just since 1991, physical activity has declined 45%.
Results of the inactivity are accrued over a lifetime: more obesity; more missed school and work; more health care costs; lower fitness; lower earnings; and finally, premature death.
Reversing these trends requires systematic changes, the report says, and the bicycle plays a key role in getting people more active.
The vision is to get kids "running, jumping, and kicking to reach their greatest potential" and the plan is really two-fold - first get kids interested in physical activity via positive experiences at an early age - before they are 10 years old. Next, integrate physical activity into daily life.
That's where the bicycle comes in. In order to have physical activity, the report states that some physical activity must be designed into the built environment; different sectors of society have to share physical activity and fitness goals; "misaligned" incentives must be challenged, and "signals" that reinforce the current norm must also be challenged.
Translation? Using the bike as an example, it would be: Build safety-oriented bicycle lanes and paths, make it a goal to get kids to bike (and walk) to school, take away the incentives (lack of safety) that cause parents to drive kids, and encourage bike training and bike sports.
Of course, bikes are only one of many ways that kids can and should get moving. But when you are talking about integrating physical activity into our regular daily lives, bikes are superb because we spend a significant amount of time moving around - bikes move us and our limbs and heart rates.